Religious Studies

William Reiser, S.J., Ph.D., Professor and Chair

The Department of Religious Studies has a two-fold function: serving the general student body in a liberal arts college and preparing students who wish to concentrate in the area of religious studies for their future work.

The Department of Religious Studies addresses religion as a fundamental dimension of human history and personal experience. Recognizing that students are in a process of coming to terms with their own traditions and personal spiritualities, it offers courses that explore a wide range of religious traditions, theological perspectives, and ethical questions that are central in the formation of personal religious identity. Since Holy Cross is a Jesuit and Catholic college and the majority of its students come from the Roman Catholic tradition, the department offers courses that provide them with an opportunity to know and understand the Catholic tradition and situate that tradition in the larger context of other religious traditions and in the broader cultural context in which we live. Such courses help students from all traditions to come to terms with religious and cultural pluralism. The Department of Religious Studies endeavors to promote religious understanding and informed citizenship in a global community.

Because the field of religious studies is multidimensional, our program for majors acquaints students with the diverse aspects of the phenomenon of religion. It also enables students to pursue in-depth the particular area of their own interest. A major is required to take a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 14 courses in the department, including one course in each of the following four areas: world religions, sacred texts, theology, and ethics; in addition, they must take two intensive courses (seminars or tutorials) in the student’s area of concentration. For those students who intend to pursue graduate studies, the department strongly advises competence in a classical as well as in a modern language, and in the social sciences and philosophy.

Students wishing to minor in Religious Studies either out of general interest in the subject of religion and theology or in order to complement their major in another field are required to take a minimum of six courses in the department. These must include courses from two different religious traditions and represent at least three of the four subject areas that we cover — world religions, sacred texts, theology, and ethics. In addition, a minimum of two courses must be taken at the 200-level or above, at least one of which must be a seminar. Religious Studies minors are encouraged to have an advisor from the departmental faculty to assist them as they shape their program in the study of religion. Courses taken in Montserrat that carry an R designation do not count towards the minor.

Tutorial reading programs and individual research projects are available to qualified students by arrangement with the appropriate department faculty.

Courses

Religious Studies Courses

Religion/Religions
Introductory Courses
Religious Studies
101
Introduction to the Comparative Study of Religion
Alternate years

Introduction to the nature and place of religion in the human experience as critically understood through the modern disciplines of comparative history, text criticism, and social science. Viewpoints covered include the psychoanalytic, philosophical, biological, artistic, and anthropological. Sources range broadly from the Bible to modern fiction, Lao Tzu to Celtic myths. The course also examines the effects of modern change on religion in global perspective. One unit.

Religious Studies
106
Buddhism
Fall, spring

Survey of the Buddhist tradition, from its origins in ancient India through its evolution as a pan-Asian faith. Topics include the legends of the Buddha, the early monastic community, the emergence of Theravada and Mahayana teachings, Buddhist ethics and social philosophy, meditation traditions, and the later development of distinctive Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese schools. Utilizes textual and anthropological sources. One unit.

Religious Studies
107
Islam
Fall, spring

Examination of Islamic religious beliefs and practices from the origins of Islam to the present. Particular stress is placed on Islamic religious ideals, institutions and personalities. Central topics include: Islamic scripture and traditions, prophecy, law, rituals, theology and philosophy, sectarianism, mysticism, aesthetic ideals, art and architecture, pedagogy, and modern reinterpretations of the tradition. Also explores wider issues of religious identity by looking at the diversity of the Islamic tradition, tensions between elite and popular culture, and issues of gender and ethnicity. One unit.

Religious Studies
120
Comparative Religions/World View
Spring

Systematic exploration of similarities and differences within and among several traditions (Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam) and an examination of several key issues within the academic study of religion. One unit.

Religious Studies
147
Judaism
Annually

Introduction to the history, theology, and practices of the Jews which uses the evidence of Judaism to exemplify the interrelationship between a religious civilization and the historical and cultural framework within which it exists. How does what happens to the Jews affect their formulation of their religion, Judaism? By answering this question and by learning the details of Jewish belief and practice, students will come to comprehend both Judaism and the social construction of religion in general. One unit.

Religious Studies
149
Judaism in the Time of Jesus
Alternate years

Judaism as we know it took shape in the first six centuries C.E., in the same period that saw the emergence of Christianity. This course describes and interprets early Judaism against its historical backdrop, evaluating the theological beliefs and ritual practices Jews developed and espoused. The main focus is Judaism’s central theological conceptions, concerning, e.g., life-after-death, the messiah, divine providence, revelation. The larger goal is to comprehend how religious ideologies respond to and make sense of the world in which the adherents of the religion live. One unit.

Religious Studies
161
Religions: China and Japan
Spring

Introduction to the history and phenomenology of the religions of China and Japan. An examination of Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Chinese-Japanese Buddhism and Zen Buddhism as an expression of reaction to the total human situation in which persons live. One unit.

Religious Studies
165
Ancient and Medieval Hinduism
Spring

Introduction to key themes in ancient and medieval Hinduism. Considers the sacrificial worldview of the Vedas and Brahmanas and then moves to discuss the significance of the Upanishads and yoga. Special attention will be given to the two chief Hindu epics: the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Also examines key elements in Hindu law through a reading of The Laws of Manu. Concludes with a consideration of Hindu devotional theism in the worship Shiva, Krishna, and the goddess Kali. One unit.

Religious Studies
180
Race & Religion in the U.S.
Annually

Introduces students to the religious experiences, practices, and philosophies of historically racialized groups within the United States. It will focus on the respective realities of those peoples who have been designated as being African Americans, Latinos, and Asian Americans. Topics include: white nationalism, Catholicism, violence, politics, labor, sexuality, and the social construction of race. This course is historical in its outlook. Previous coursework in religious studies, history, or sociology is not required. One unit.

Religious Studies
195
Jews and Judaism in America
Every third year

Evaluation of the history and ideologies of Jews in America as an example of contemporary religious life in general: why and how do modern people maintain religious affiliations? In what ways do their religions carry forward inherited ideals, and in what regards are they simply, or primarily, products of the modern period? These questions are answered through an examination of the character of the American Jewish community and an analysis of the perspectives of American Jews on contemporary social and political issues. Appropriate for students with no prior knowledge of Judaism or Jewish history. One unit.

Intermediate Courses
Religious Studies
201
Catholicism in Latin America
Spring

This intermediate-level lecture course examines the development of Catholicism in Latin America from the early colonial period until today. It looks at the various ways that creoles, mestizos, Indigenous peoples, and people of African descent have lived, experienced, and imagined the Catholic faith. The course will focus on how both individuals and interest groups in Latin America and beyond have sought to define what official Catholicism is for themselves and others. Topics include: colonialism, sexuality, race, gender, violence, and nationalism. This course is in English. One unit.

Religious Studies
202
Native American Religious Traditions
Fall

This intermediate-level lecture course examines the evolution of Native American religious traditions from the sixteenth century until today. It also addresses the impact of Catholic colonialism and state assimilation policies on the Indigenous peoples of North America. Topics include: ritual, gender, sexuality, race, violence, and civil rights. This course is reading intensive. Previous coursework in religious studies, history, or anthropology is not required. One unit.

Religious Studies
214
The Modernization of Asian Religions
Alternate years

How could Chairman Mao be turned into a deity on taxicab good luck charms? Are Japanese truly a “non-religious people?” Can India abandon its secular constitution to become a “Hindu nation”? How are Buddhist monks involved in adapting to the profound crises affecting their societies? This seminar addresses these issues and examines the modernization of Asian religions across the region, analyzing the impact of colonialism, the diffusion of scientific thought from Europe, and the impact of Protestant missions. Drawing upon recent research on Hinduism, Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism, Shinto, Daoism, and the “New Religions” of Japan, this interdisciplinary course draws upon studies from history, religion, and anthropology.
One unit.

Religious Studies
216
Readings in Asian Religious Texts
Alternate years

Focuses on critical and analytical readings of sacred writings in translation from the Asian religious traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Daosim. The genres sampled include law codes, works of ascetic mysticism, religious biography, popular narrative, and scholastic treatises. Also examines the cross-cultural definition of “text,” the idea of a “scriptural canon,” and the construction of tradition in the western historical imagination. One unit.

Religious Studies
236
Makers of Modern Theology
Alternate years

This seminar examines authors or schools of thought which have helped to shape modern theological
thinking. Authors examined in years past include: Karl Barth, Dietrich Bonhoefer, Rudolf Bulltmann, Paul
Tillich, Karl Rahner, Edward Schillebeeckx, Rosemary Ruether, Hans Küng, James Cone, Ada Maria Isasi-
Diaz. Schools of thought represented include: liberal Protestant theology, process thought, transcendental
Thomism, liberation theologies. One unit.

Religious Studies
255
Ecology and Religion
Alternate years

Explores various perspectives on nature articulated in the history of the world’s religions beginning with hunter-gatherer and tribal peoples. Distinctive doctrines derived from sacred texts and by philosophers/theologians, as well as the impact of ritual practices, are reviewed to understand the impact of religion on human ecology. After considering the perspective of Enlightenment thought on the natural world, the course surveys early North American exponents of ecological spirituality (Thoreau; Emerson; Muir), the writings of Eco-theologians (Fox; Berry; Schweitzer; McFague), and how cosmologies articulated by modern ecologists (Leopold; Lovelock) and activists (Earth First! And Greenpeace) have sought to define as sacred the human connection with the natural world. One unit.

Religious Studies
260
Comparative Mysticism and Human Ecology
Fall

In a general sense, mystical theory and practice promote a dynamic, holistic, interconnected, and integrated view of life, self, and the world. This course will examine different mystical belief systems and practices, e.g. Zen Buddhism, Sufism (Islamic mysticism), Shamanism, and more, which promote the integration of knowledge and multiple ways of knowing. We will look at mysticism from a multidisciplinary perspective: psychological, philosophical, anthropological, religious, and scientific, and explore the nature and meaning of self and our relationship to others, the world around us, the universe, and ultimate reality. We will also consider the possibility, in light of the major problems of our times: economic, environmental, healthcare, violence, etc., that perhaps a new paradigm, a new vision of reality, is required, that sees things from an ecological and organic perspective. One unit.

Religious Studies
265
Modern and Contemporary Hinduism
Annually

A survey of Hinduism in the modern and contemporary periods. Issues examined include: opposition to British rule, Hindu temple worship, village Hinduism, new Hindu movements, caste, and the role of women in Indian society and culture. Special consideration is also given to the life of Mahatma Gandhi. Readings include novels by Rabindranath Tagore, Mulk Raj Anand, and Premchand. This course also draws heavily upon ethnographic case studies. Students may enroll in Modern and Contemporary Hinduism if they have taken either Ancient and Medieval Hinduism (RELS-165) or Comparative Religions Worldview (RELS-120). One unit.

Religious Studies
270
The Quran
Spring

This seminar will give students a window into the religious and spiritual world shaped and filled by the Quran. The topics covered will relate to Islam in general and the Quran in particular, such as language, law, mysticism, theology, art, and comparative religion. This will involve a study of the exegesis of the text, which records the ways in which Muslims have interpreted and taught the Quran through the ages up to our present day. One unit.

Religious Studies
276
Comparative Catholicisms
Spring

Comparative examination of Catholicism in four broad culture areas: the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia. Topics include: inculturation, interreligious conflict, popular devotion and the cult of Mary, sanctity, Catholic charismatic and healing movements, as well as Catholic social and political resistance. Special attention is given to whether we can understand world Catholicism as a unified system of religious beliefs and practices. One unit.

Religious Studies
277
Modern Religious Movements
Spring

Examines the phenomenon of modern religious movements within the United States. The movements considered are popularly known as cults, and one of our most important objectives will be to examine critically this term and other categories, such as brainwashing. Ranges broadly, from a consideration of contemporary movements such as Scientology, the Branch Davidians, the People’s Temple, and UFO Cults, to other groups that have experienced longer histories, such as the Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) and the Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witnesses). Special attention is also given to contemporary religious movements within Catholicism. A consideration of modern religious movements is inevitably highly charged. The fundamental purpose of the course is to provide the analytic tools to consider not only modern religious movements themselves but also the discourse surrounding them. One unit.

Religious Studies
279
Religion & Violence
Alternate years

Religion and Violence considers religious justifications of violence. The course begins with an examination of sacrifice through a survey of Aztec culture in relation to the theory of “generative scapegoating” articulated by Rene Girard. The course then moves to discuss religious justifications of warfare as “crusade” and “jihad.” The class also reads the Hindu epic “The Mahabharata” and examines its theory of ethical obligation in extreme circumstances. The course then considers terrorism through a comparative discussion of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and Palestinian organizations such as Hamasand Islamic Jihad. A crucial part of this discussion is engaging ethical theories regarding the classification of “non-combatants”as well as considering both critiques and defenses of asymmetrical forms of violence. Substantial attention will be given to analyzing the category “terrorism” and to what extent it has value as a classification for certain kinds of violence. The class concludes with a consideration of violence to the body as reflected in asceticism, torture, and ordeal. One unit.

Advanced Courses
Religious Studies
305
Mahayana Buddhism
Alternate years

Seminar examining prominent movements within the Northern School of Buddhism, with particular attention to Indic, Tibetan, and east Asian developments. Topics include the Bodhisattva doctrine, Madhyamika and Hua-yen philosophies, Pure Land lineages, and the esoteric schools. Focuses upon influential texts (Lotus Sutra, Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutra) and associated devotional practices. One unit.

Religious Studies
311
Zen Buddhism: Seminar
Spring

Examination of Zen Buddhism and its influences on East Asian civilizations. Surveys the texts and monastic practices that define Zen spiritual cultivation and the history of the Soto and Rinzai schools’ evolution. Special attention is also devoted to the distinctive poetic (haiku), fine arts (painting, gardening, tea ceremony), and martial arts (swordsmanship) disciplines that this tradition has inspired in China and Japan. One unit.

Religious Studies
312
Theravada Buddhism
Alternate years

A course that examines the prominent texts, doctrines and  practices of the Theravāda Buddhist tradition, including the distinctive changes introduced in the modern era in Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos.

Religious Studies
315
Islamic Philosophy and Theology
Alternate years

Introduction to the major issues, figures, and texts of Islamic philosophy and theology. Attempts to answer the question of what Islamic philosophy and theology are and how they figure in Islamic tradition. While dealing with such towering figures as Kindi, Farabi, Ibn Sina, Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Ibn Hazm, Ibn Tufayl, Ibn Bajjah, Suhrawardi, the school of Ibn al-Arabi, Nasir al-Din Tusi, and Mulla Sadra, also discusses central issues and concepts of Islamic philosophy, including existence and essence, God’s existence and knowledge of the world, knowledge and its foundations, cosmology, causality and its role in sciences of nature and political thought. Kalam or Islamic theology is the focus of the second part of the course. Examines classical debates around such issues as God’s names and qualities, free will and determinism, reason and revelation, ethics, and political philosophy. One unit.

Religious Studies
320
Mystics & Inquisitors
Spring

This seminar examines the complicated and contentious encounter between mystics and inquisitors in the early modern Spanish world (Spain and Spanish America). Its focus is on those women and men who claimed to have sacred visions, the churchmen charged with judging the authenticity of sacred visions, and the theological and political implications of regulating such mystical phenomena. This course delves into the Roman Catholic Church’s complex relationship with the Spanish Crown and its attempt to regulate piety. Topics include: the Catholic Reformation(s), demonology, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. This seminar is in English. One unit.

Religious Studies
320
Mystics and Inquisitors
Annually, fall

Examines the complicated and contentious encounter between mystics and inquisitors in the early modern Spanish world (Spain and colonial Spanish America). Its focus is on those women and men who claimed to have sacred visions, the churchmen charged with judging the authenticity of such sacred visions, and the theological and political implications of regulating mystical experiences. Topics include: the Catholic Reformations, demonology, race, gender, sexuality, and violence. This seminar is historical in its outlook and is in English. A previous course in religious studies, history, or anthropology is required. This course is cross-listed in the Catholic Studies Concentration. One unit.

Religious Studies
327
The Holocaust: Confronting Evil
Annually

Seeks to interpret an event that defies representation and lacks discernible logic or meaning. By evaluating how others have depicted, attempted to create meaningful narratives about, and drawn conclusions from the Holocaust, we hope ourselves to reach some understanding of this event, of its significance for modern society, and of its potential for helping us to recognize our own responsibilities in a world in which ultimate evil is possible. One unit.

Religious Studies
340
Gardens and World Religions
Alternate years

A survey of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the major garden traditions of the world associated with religions. This course moves from considerations of human aesthetic and spiritual experience in the natural world to a survey of the major garden traditions associated with the western Mediterranean and Europe: in classical Greece and Rome, Christianity, and Islam. The course then moves to East Asia and classical traditions of China and Japan. Special focus will be given to elements of the campus Japanese Garden Initiative: teahouse gardens and monastic viewing gardens. Field trips to regional gardens will be made. For the final project, students design small virtual contemplative gardens for possible construction at specific campus sites. One unit.

Bible
Introductory Courses
Religious Studies
118
New Testament
Fall, spring

Introduction to early Christian literature and thought in light of the historical, literary, and religious milieu of the Greco-Roman world, including Judaism. Topics discussed include the diverse of representations of Jesus, the emergence of the category “Christian,” and the genres of New Testament and other early Christian books. Contemporary approaches are addressed, but the primary focus is the ancient texts themselves. One unit.

Religious Studies
126
Old Testament
Fall, spring

Introduction to the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures/Old Testament, the course explores the social and cultural worlds that produced the texts, examines the biblical texts themselves, and investigates the assumptions and methods employed by pre-modern, modern (post-Enlightenment), and postmodern interpreters of the Bible. One unit.

Religious Studies
190
History of the Early Church
Alternate years

This course will focus on the first four centuries of the Christian Church, beginning with the earliest followers of Christ described in the New Testament and continuing through the conversion of Constantine in the fourth century. We will examine how the structure of the church develops, as well as its theologies, doctrines and liturgies. We will pay attention to the variety of Christian viewpoints in these early centuries and how Christians debated with each other and with outsiders on their most basic beliefs. We will track various themes throughout this period, such as prophesy, heresy vs. orthodoxy, gender dynamics, martyrdom, asceticism, interaction with non-Christians, the importance of ritual. One unit.

Intermediate Courses
Religious Studies
212
The Gospels
Alternate years

This course explores the New Testament gospels as literary creations and expressions of faith of Christian communities living in the Roman Empire. We will explore the various themes, imagery, rhetoric, theologies, opinions of Jesus, communal and historical contexts, and social structures (such as gender relations, patronage, slavery, etc.) that inform each text. Students will develop the skills to ask critical questions and will learn the methodological tools for beginning to answer these questions. One unit.

Religious Studies
221
Women in Early Christianity
Every third year

Exploration of the activity of women in the early church as witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus, missionaries, teachers, ascetics, martyrs, and deacons. Considers the historical and social context of women’s lives in the Greco-Roman world in an environment of religious pluralism, women’s self-understanding, and the controversy over women’s leadership in the developing church. Texts studied include the canonical gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John, the non-canonical Gospel of Mary,as well as Christian texts from the second to fourth centuries. One unit.

Religious Studies
229
Paul the Apostle
Spring

Study of the writings, thought, and historical context(s) of the apostle Paul and the Christians who claimed his authority. Particular attention is paid to Paul’s self-representation, to the positions he took on issues of vital concern to the first Christians, and to the diverse representations of both Paul and his teachings by second- and third-generation Christians. One unit.

Advanced Courses
Religious Studies
323
Households & Early Christianity
Alternate years

This course focuses on how the household influenced early Christianity, both as a primary meeting place and as a conceptual tool for constructing Christian discourses on marriage and kinship, poverty and wealthgetting, work and leisure. It begins with a broad study of the ways that ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish writers conceived of the household: its economic production, religious practices, and role in larger society. It also includes a study of the physical structures of houses in the Roman empire in order to learn more about the occupants and their lives. Finally, the seminar will investigate how households, both as physical spaces and ideological focal points, influenced the development of Christian worship and theology. One unit.

Theology
Introductory Courses
Religious Studies
114
Introduction to Theology
Fall, spring

Introduction to major claims in Christian theology through a close examination of historical and contemporary Catholic and Protestant theologies. Topics include: methods in doing theology and in biblical interpretation; images of God and of Jesus; the human condition; different marks and models of the church; and religious diversity. Readings address the interplay in theological reflection between religious tradition and social location, and analyze the implications and challenges of Christian claims in light of gender, race and poverty. One unit.

Religious Studies
116
Catholicism
Spring

Introduction to the academic study of the beliefs and practices of Roman Catholic Christianity, and of the situation of the church in the contemporary United States. Topics include: approaches to the study of Catholicism; creeds and doctrinal foundations of the Church; structure, authority, and community; spirituality, worship, and the sacramental tradition; Catholic moral and social teaching; current issues and controversies in Catholicism. One unit.

Religious Studies
117
History of Christianity 1
Fall

A survey of the origins and development of Christianity, both its theology and its structures, from the apostolic period to the eve of the Reformation. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Christian doctrine and worship during the early and medieval periods of the Christian history. The interplay between orthodoxy and heterodoxy will be stressed in a close examination of heretical movements and their impact on the formation of the tradition. The interaction between Church and society will also be addressed. One unit.

Religious Studies
119
History of Christianity 2
Spring

A survey of the development of Christianity, both its theology and its structures, from the Reformation period to today. Special attention is paid to the development of the various Protestant traditions, and their doctrine and worship. The interplay between Roman Catholicism and the Protestant churches is discussed. The impact of these Christian traditions on American society is also addressed. One unit.

Religious Studies
133
Contemporary Catholic Spirituality
Fall

An introduction to contemporary Catholic spirituality. Examines the lived experience and theological writings of influential 20th and 21st century Catholics with a focus on both contemplative and active spiritualities. Authors will likely include: Thomas Merton, Mother Theresa, John Paul II, and Oscar Romero. One unit.

Religious Studies
139
Understanding Jesus
Fall, spring

An examination of the figure of Jesus as presented in the gospels with attention devoted to historical questions about Jesus’ life and teaching, the theological claims about Jesus being made by the gospel writers, and the direct challenge which the gospel story presents to the church and the world today. One unit.

Intermediate Courses
Religious Studies
200
Reformation & Counter Reformation
Alternate years

The most significant political, intellectual, and religious developments of the Protestant and Catholic Reformation movements in 16th- and 17th-century Europe. Cross-listed in the Department of History as History 248. One unit.

Religious Studies
215
Defense Against the Dark Arts
Spring

With the 1998 publication of The Sorcerer’s Stone J. K. Rowling began creating a universe that continues to house the imagination of millions of readers around the globe. Although not a religious work, the series is a portal into a world that is. Both the world of faith and the world of fiction depend on imagination, and the Harry Potter series provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on what makes these worlds alike and what makes them different. The faith-world brings us to questions about ultimate meaning and value; so does the HP series. The faith-world has to do with self-discovery, personal growth and transformation; so does the series. The faith-world works from a sense of enchantment and divine providence; the HP series is predicated on the possibility of magic, although the ultimate source of that magic (and the possibility of dark magic) is left unexplained. The faith-world has to do with moral choices and their consequences, and so does the series. Why does imagination give permission to miracles but dismiss magic as fantasy? How and why are faith and fantasy different? How does the mind distinguish what is “real” from what is not? And how does the mind defend itself against dementors, chaos, and spiritual darkness? Religious imagination is one such defense. One unit.

Religious Studies
217
Eucharist: History and Theology
Alternate years

Provides a detailed study of the historical development and theological significance of the Eucharist in Christian tradition. Treats underlying concepts in sacramental theology in terms of Eucharistic ritual. Special attention is paid to the Roman Catholic experience, but other Christian traditions will be discussed. One unit.

Religious Studies
218
Christian Sacraments
Alternate years

Provides a general study of the historical development and theological significance of Christian sacraments. Begins with discussion of key underlying concepts in sacramental theology: the experience of the sacred; sign, symbol, ritual; and Christ/Church as sacrament. Special attention is paid to the Roman Catholic experience, but other Christian traditions are discussed. One unit.

Religious Studies
219
Christian Prayer in Theory and Practice
Spring

Considers Christian prayer as both a topic for theological study and a body of disciplines and practices. Topics include basic theological perspectives; historical origins and important figures in the development of Christian spirituality; personal and liturgical prayer; prayer and psychology; prayer and global awareness. Diverse traditions, methods, and practical approaches to Christian prayer  will be considered, including Pentecostal prayer, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, Christian meditation and Centering Prayer. Readings draw from both classic sources and contemporary interpretations. Weekly practicum sessions focus on observing and/or participating in various forms of Christian prayer. One unit.

Religious Studies
227
God and Human Experience
Alternate years

Studies the important religious concept of revelation, but does so with an eye to the ordinary ways in which the divine mystery presents itself to human beings. Examines biblical writings and other narratives of faith in which men and women describe the religious dimension of their lives. One unit.

Religious Studies
231
Early Christian Writers
Alternate years

This seminar examines a number of writers from the second to the fifth centuries who shaped the Christian theological tradition in various ways: Irenaeus, Athanasius, Origen, Augustine, John Chrysostom, Gregory of Nyssa, as well as the Fathers and Mothers of the Desert. In particular, the course looks at how these writers interpreted the Bible, how they related faith and culture, the contributions they made to the Church’s understanding of Jesus, their analysis of human nature, their doctrine of sin and grace, their approach to the interior life, and how they were affected by the intellectual currents of their time. One unit.

Religious Studies
234
Conflicts in the Church
Fall

Examines selected issues which have generated considerable controversy in the contemporary Catholic church (e.g., liturgical change, the Church and politics, women’s leadership, contraception, clergy sexual abuse, homosexuality, etc.). Topics are considered in relation to differing views on the origin, structure, and purpose of the church itself, and include discussion of structures of authority in the church; differing rhetorical styles and traditions of thought in church history; change and the development of doctrine; church moral and social teaching. Readings draw from official Catholic Church teaching as well as writings of socalled “progressive” and “neoconservative” theologians. One unit.

Religious Studies
243
Theology of the New Testament
Alternate years

Drawing on contemporary biblical exegesis, this course explores both the major theological questions that the New Testament writers were addressing in their own time and place, and the theological questions those writings force the church of today to raise in light of its present historical and cultural circumstances. What is faith? What is salvation? How does revelation happen? What does the New Testament tell us about the mystery of God? In what way is Christian religious experience the platform for thinking about church? How does the New Testament help us to face major concerns of today, such as Christianity’s relationship to the other world religions, environmental justice, a shifting moral landscape, and the perennial thirst for the transcendent? One unit.

Religious Studies
280
Liberation Theology
Annually

Based on the principle of God's special identification with history's oppressed, liberation theology explores the problems of biblical interpretation, church teaching and Christian commitment in the contemporary world. This course examines the relationship between the socio-political consciousness of marginalized peoples and their Christian faith. Among the topics to be covered will be racism, global poverty, sexism, and environmental degradation.  This course has three primary sections: (1) Black Theology; (2) Latin American Liberation Theology; (3) Feminist Theology. One unit.

Religious Studies
285
Jesuit Spirituality
Annually, spring

Examines the distinctive characteristics of Jesuit Spirituality as reflected in the four weeks of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, his autobiography, and other early Jesuit writings. Examines the religious experience that gave birth to the Society of Jesus, the Society’s keen interest in education, and contemporary expressions of the Ignatian vision. One unit.

Religious Studies
290
Teologia Andina
Alternate years, fall

A study of religion, culture, and theology in the Andean region of Bolivia. The course examines the way in which Christian faith has been appropriated by the Aymara and Quechua people, and it introduces students to a worldview that is both distinctive and challenging in its focus on the earth (the Pachamama) and community life. The course also studies the history of cultural and social oppression that paved the way for contemporary efforts in the region at religious and political self-expression. Taught in Spanish; requires the ability to read, speak, and write in Spanish. Limited to 3rd- and 4th-year students. One unit.

Religious Studies
292
Medieval Christianity
Alternate years

This seminar provides an in-depth study of the origins and development of medieval Christianity in Western Europe. It covers theology and structural evolution from the fall of the Roman Empire to the eve of the Reformation. Special attention is paid to the evolution of Christian doctrine, spirituality, architecture and worship during the “high” and “late” Middle Ages, the interplay between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, their impact on the formation of the tradition, and the interaction between church and society. One unit.

Advanced Courses
Religious Studies
303
Theology Themes: Science Fiction
Alternate years, spring

This seminar will examine Christian theological themes through the literary genre of science fiction/speculative fiction. Readings from the genre of fantasy may also be studied. Theological themes addressed may include: the nature of religion; the concept of God/the divine; the quality of humanity in other species; the problem of evil and suffering; the question of sin and salvation; the nature of faith and belief; the role of myth and symbol; doctrine as redemptive or demonic; heaven, hell and the afterlife; the believer as scientist/explorer. One unit.

Religious Studies
333
Comparative Theology
Alternate years

An exploration of the meaning and significance of Christianity’s encounter with the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and other religious traditions, both new and old. Investigates major theological questions emerging from the dialogue between Christianity and other world religions. One unit.

Religious Studies
355
Purity and Filth
Alternate years, spring

The concepts of purity and pollution influence the ways in which human beings interact in the world, from the micro level (germs/viruses) to the macro level (God/the divine). This seminar will examine the notion of purity from the perspective of ritual studies, and will explore the ways this notion affects human behavior and culture. Case studies, primary sources, and short stories will all be included in the readings assigned. Among the possible topics: the body and its ‘margins’; food and meals; cleanliness and sanitation; the sacred and the profane; holiness and sin; sex and gender; birth and death; illness and health; obsession and compulsion; environment and ecology. One unit.

Religious Studies
357
Modern Catholic Theology
Alternate years

Examines selected theological questions addressed by modern Catholic theologians such as Rahner, Schillebeeckx, Dulles, Tracy, Gutierrez, and Ruether. Several major works are read and discussed in detail. One unit.

Religious Studies
395
Saints and Sinners
Every third year

This seminar offers an examination of the historical and theological development of the ideals and practices of Christian life, from the Middle Ages to the Early Modern era. The focus is on “saints” and “sinners” as windows into the attitudes and values, the fears and hopes, the virtues and vices, the piety and the heresy, of western European culture. Special attention is paid to the following themes: gendered perceptions of sanctity and sin; community and solitude; poverty and riches; feasting and fasting as religious and cultural activity. One unit.

Ethics
Introductory Courses
Religious Studies
141
Contemporary Christian Morality
Fall

This course addresses the implications of Christian belief and identity for personal and social morality. Readings examine fundamental ethics of moral agency, human freedom, conscience, sin, suffering and virtue, as well as the method and themes of Catholic social teaching. The final part of the course explores several areas of contemporary ethical concern including the use of violence, human sexuality, healthcare, and the environment. One unit.

Religious Studies
143
Social Ethics
Fall

An introduction to Christian ethical reflection on contemporary social issues. Topics may include economic justice and poverty; love, marriage, and sexuality; racism; capital punishment; war and peace; the environment; and Christian political engagement. An introduction to Christian ethical evaluation of such issues as impoverishment and economic justice, racism, and First World/Two-Thirds World relations in the struggle against war and the search for peace. One unit.

Intermediate Courses
Religious Studies
209
War and Peace in the Christian Tradition
Alternate years

An introduction to some of the important ethical issues involved in war/peace studies. Beginning with an examination of the two major religious traditions, just war theory and pacifism/nonviolence, the course then turns to an examination of the experience of war by a focus on World War II and Vietnam. In light of an examination of both approaches to issues of war and peace and the experiences of war, the course concludes with a critical analysis of the American bishops’ pastoral letter, The Challenge of Peace. One unit.

Religious Studies
230
Theological Perspectives on Medical Ethics
Spring

This course examines important developments in contemporary medical ethics considered in the context of the wider cultural assumptions of western philosophical traditions, the rise of the technological imperative, market capitalism, and globalization. These are brought into conversation with theological commitments to human dignity, the pursuit of virtue, the common good and the option for the poor. Topics to be considered will include healthcare relationships, treatment decisions, beginning and end of life issues, research using human subjects, the just distribution of healthcare resources, reproductive technologies, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and health and human rights. One unit.

Religious Studies
300
Ethics of Work and Family
Alternate years

Explores work and family as ethical themes in the Christian tradition. The course will consider the meanings and goals of work and family each in its own right and will also cover contemporary dilemmas at the intersection of work and family. Theological frameworks of virtue, vocation, feminist ethics, and social ethics will figure prominently in the course. Readings will draw on material from the documentary heritage of Catholic social teaching as well as contributions from theologians representing different Christian denominations, other religious traditions, and secular thinkers. One unit.

Advanced Courses
Religious Studies
313
HIV/AIDS and Ethics
Alternate years

Explores the many ethical questions brought into relief by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, arguably one of the most pressing global public health issues of our time. Focusing primarily on issues of social justice, the course mines the traditions of Christian ethics and Catholic social teaching for resources with which to address topics including HIV prevention, treatment, research, access, and global public health. We will become familiar with key ethical methods and concepts, including casuistry, the common good, solidarity, and the option for the poor. One unit.

Religious Studies
335
Economics and Ethical Values
Alternate years

Investigates the ethical dimensions of contemporary economic issues such as the restructured labor market, income and wealth distribution, the extent of globalization, the international debt crisis, and alternative economic models. Focus also includes the economic dimensions of race and gender relations and their relevance to economic justice. One unit.

Religious Studies
199
Special Topics
Fall, spring

Introductory level courses on special topics in religion, theology, Bible, and ethics. One unit.

Special Topics
Religious Studies
199
Special Topics
Fall, spring

Introductory level courses on special topics in religion, theology, Bible, and ethics. One unit.

Religious Studies
299
Special Topics
Fall, spring

Intermediate level courses on special topics in religion, theology, Bible, and ethics. One unit.

Religious Studies
399
Special Topics
Fall, spring

Advanced level courses on special topics in religion, theology, Bible, and ethics. One unit.

Religious Studies
411
Tutorial
Fall, spring

One unit.