COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS:  WORLDVIEW 
RELS-120-01/02 
Monday, Wednesday, Friday:  11:00 A.M./2:00  P.M. 
Fall  Semester 1999 
Stein 208
Professor Mathew N. Schmalz
Department of Religious Studies
The College of the Holy Cross.
 
 
 
Seal of the College of the Holy Cross
 
 
 
 
 
COURSE OVERVIEW

Instructor:  Mathew N. Schmalz.  Office:  Stein 431; Office Phone:  793-2557;  Office Hours:  Monday 3-4; Wednesday 10-11; Thursday 2-3; Friday 4-5.  E-mail:  mschmalz@holycross.edu.  

Description:  This course examines Hinduism, Islam and Christianity within the perspective of the comparative study of religion.  The course will initially introduce students to basic themes within the worldview of each of these three traditions.  As the course progresses, we will integrate themes from the comparative study of religion to provide “interpretative frames” for understanding diverse religious world views.  This course is introductory in nature and requires no previous knowledge of Hinduism, Islam or Christianity.  

Goals: This course has three overall objectives:  

1)  To present a general introduction to the Hindu, Islamic and Christian worldviews.  

2)  To introduce students to some of the central concepts in the comparative study of  
religion.  

3)  To allow students to apply central concepts in the academic study of religion to a comparative examination of these three religious world views.  

Format:  Lecture and Discussion.  

Evaluation:  Four sets of entries colated in a writing portfolio, three tests and a final essay. The journals and the final essay will be weighted equally while the individual scores from the three tests will be totaled together and considered a single grade that will have the weight of a single journal entry when the final grade is average. Thus there will be six grades of equal weight for the final evaluation.  Journals will be evaluated according to the criteria set forth in the attached rubric.  

Writing Portfolio:  All writing portfolio entries must be typed or written on a computer and submitted on plain white paper in a font no smaller than 10 point and no larger than 12 point.  Additionally, all writing portfolios  must have a title page with the student’s name, class, e-mail address and telephone number. A sample title might read simply:  “The Writing Portfolio of Kathy Smith for Comparative Religions:  Worldview.” Page numbering should be sequential throughout the journal—the first entry starting on page one. Finally,  writng portfolios must either be bound in a plastic notebook or submitted in a folder.  

Class Policies:  Students are required to complete the assigned readings before the class period in which they are discussed.  Attendance is also  required and I will take attendance periodically in class.  Students are allowed three unexcused absences per semester. Any absences beyond this limit must be explained in a written statement.  Since the syllabus is subject to modification and change, students are also responsible for these changes even if they were not able to attend the class in which the changes were announced. Late work will be penalized one full letter grade per day.   In order to ensure overall fairness in granting extensions, I would ask that students notify me in writing at least two days before the due date of an assignment to request an extension.  

Intellectual Honesty:  I advise all students to be aware of the College’s policies pertaining to intellectual honesty.  In order to complete the assignments for this class, students will not need to consult any other source beyond the required texts.  Because of this, I would not expect journal entries to have footnotes or other kinds of academic documentation. If a student does rely upon an outside source for an assignment, he or she should simply cite that work in a footnote.  I encourage all students to discuss the material with one another, including discussing graded evaluations.  Reading one another’s papers can also be a particularly valuable way to share ideas and to extend learning beyond the classroom. Be sure, however, to give appropriate acknowledgment to your peers in the final drafts of your journal entries if their help has been particularly useful to you in your writing.  Such acknowledgments are usually made in a footnote and are a common feature of all academic writing.  
 
 

E-Mail:  Class announcements, outlines and assignments will usually be distributed by electronic mail.  Please be sure to check your e-mail regularly.  

Getting to Know Me:  All students are required to meet with me at least once during the semester, either during scheduled office hours or by making a separate appointment.  In addition to meeting with me in my office, I would also encourage students to contact me through e-mail if they have any specific questions about the material as the course progresses.  I can also be reached by telephone in my office or at home.  

Getting to Know You:  So I can begin to connect faces with names,  I would ask that all students give me a photocopy of their Holy Cross I.D.  The first set of journal entries will not be returned if an I.D. photocopy has not been submitted.  If we meet on-campus, please do not hesitate to introduce yourself to me.  

Required Texts:   Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain 
Frederick Denny, Islam  
Shasaku Endo, Silence 
Sandra Frankiel, Christianity 
Erika Friedel, The Women of Deh Koh 
David Knipe, Hinduism   
U.R. Anantha Murthy, Samskara.  
William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred.   

 

 

 
 
 
PLAN OF THE COURSE 
 
 
 
I.  INTRODUCTION 
WEEK 1:   PRELIMINARIES   
September 1:  Introduction to the Course 

September 3:  Introduction to India 
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 1-11.  

  
  
II.  HINDUISM 
 
Laxmi--Goddess of Wealth
 

WEEK 2:   ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL HINDUISM   
  
September 6:  The Vedic Worldview: The Primacy of Sacrifice  
READING:  David Knipe, Hinduism, 12-42;  The Purusha Sukta (handout).  

September 8:  The Upanishads:  The Search for the True Self 
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 42-46;  Selections from the Chandogya and Mundaka Upanishads (handout).  

September 10:  Medieval Bhakti:  Losing the Self in Devotion 
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 47-74;  Selections from the Gitagovinda of Jayadeva.  

WEEK 3: DIMENSIONS IN THE HINDU WORLDVIEW  

September 13: Listening to and Mythologizing the Universe 
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 75-90.  

September 15: Classifying, Recycling and Swallowing the Universe  
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 90-118.  

September 17:  The Journey of a Lifebody   
READING: David Knipe, Hinduism, 119-144.  

WEEK 4:  SAMSKARAS  

September 20: Hindu Worship:  Home and Temple Puja.   
 IN CLASS VIDEO AND DISCUSSION: Puja: Expressions of Hindu Devotion 
First Writing Portfolio Evaluation:  Due In Class 

September 22:  A Rite for a Dead Man.  
READING: U.R. Anantha Murthy, Samskara  

September 24: Test and Concluding Discussion  
First Test:  Hindu Terminology  
 

 

  

III.  ISSUES IN THE COMPARATIVE STUDY OF RELIGION 

WEEK 5:  EXPLAINING RELIGION  

September 27:  The Idea of Interpretative Frames  
READING: William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 1-28.  

September 29: Sociological Explanations of Religion  
READING:  William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 28-47;  A selection from Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life 

October 1:  Psychological Explanations of Religion   
READING:  William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 48-66.  

WEEK 6:  UNDERSTANDING RELIGION   
  
October 4:  Comparative Perspectives  
READING:  William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 67-86.  
  
October 6:  Religious Interpretations of Religion  
READING:  William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 87-109.  
Mircea Eliade, “The Anxiety of Modern Man.” 

October 8:  Contextuality and Pluralism 
READING: William Paden, Interpreting the Sacred, 110-136;   
 

 

  

IV.  ISLAM 
 
 
 

WEEK 7:  INTRODUCTION TO ISLAM   

October 11: Columbus Day--No Class 

October 13: Islam in the Western Imagination  
READING:  Frederick Denny, Islam, 1-17. 

October 15: Muhammad and the Beginnings of Islam.  
READING:  Frederick Denny, Islam, 17-39.  
 

WEEK 8: THE ISLAMIC WORLD VIEW  

October 18:  Film: The Pillars of Islam  
 

October 20:  The Qoran.  
READING: Frederick Denny, Islam, 40-45; 57-64;  Selections from the Qoran 

October 22:  The Five Pillars of Islam.  
READING: Frederick Denny, Islam, 45-57;  Selections from the Qoran 

WEEK 9: DIMENSIONS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLDVIEW  

October 25: Umma, Sunna and Sharia 
READING: Frederick Denny, Islam, 57-76. 
Second Writing Portfolio Evaluation:  Due In Class  

October 27: Muslim Piety:  The Rites of Muharram   
READING: Frederick Denny, Islam, 77-106.  

October 29:  Islam Today.  
READING: Frederick Denny, Islam, 107-127. 

WEEK 10: DIMENSIONS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLDVIEW (CONCLUDED)   

November 1: Muslim Life 
READING:  Erika Friedl, The Women of Deh Koh 
  
November 3:  Veiling:  A Discussion  
GUEST LECTURER:  Professor Vickie Langohr, Department of Political Science.  

November 5: Test and Concluding Discussion   
Second Test:  Religio-Historical and Islamic Terminology  
 
 

  
  
 
V.  CHRISTIANITY  
 
 

WEEK 11:  INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY  
  
November 8:  Christianity through Hindu and Muslim Eyes 
READING: Gandhi and others (hand-out).  
 

November 10:  The History of Christianity 
READING:  Sandra Frankiel, Christianity, 1-56    

November 12: Structures of Christian Life:Salvation, Creed and Doctrine  
READING:  Sandra Frankiel, Christianity, 57-65; Selections from the Luther’s  
Commentary on the Apostle’s Creed, The Statement of the Council of Trent; The Proclamation of Papal Infallibility and the Dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary 

WEEK 12:  ELEMENTS IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLD VIEW  

November 15: The Structures of Christian Life:  Ritual and Church  
READING:  Sandra Frankiel, Christianity,65-83.  
  
November 17: The Example of Jesus and Human Suffering  
READING:  Sandra Frankiel, Christianity, 83-89; Selections from Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ and Catherine of Sienna, The Dialogue 

November 18:  Third Writing Portfolio Evaluation         
                        Due In My Office By 5:00 pm 

November 19: Catholicism and Culture 
READING:  Shusaku Endo, Silence 

WEEK 13:  DIMENSIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW   
  
November 22:  Catholicism and Culture 
READING:  Shusaku Endo, Silence 

November 23: No Class  

WEEK 14:  DIMENSIONS IN THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW  

 November 29:  Danger, Death and Redemption 
 READING:  Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain 

December 1:  Danger, Death and Redemption 
READING:  Dennis Covington, Salvation on Sand Mountain 

December 3: Class Discussion:  What is Christianity?  

WEEK 15:  COMPARATIVE RELIGIONS:  WORLDVIEW  

December 6: Test on Christian Terminology   
Third Test:  Christian Terminology  

December 10:  Final Writing Portfolio Evaluation  
Due in My Office by 5:00 P.M.