Sunday, January 13, 2008

What is Religion?

I am now a week into the course on World Religions, although so far we have only done policies and procedures, and we have just begun to ask the question of "What is religion"?

I have not decided yet whether to spend one or two weeks on this subject.

The trouble is that I feel a pressing need to inoculate the students somewhat against certain traps of irreligious thought. Any survey of religions runs the risk of encouraging, by its very nature, a series of mental blocks against the possibility of taking any one tradition seriously.
  • Indifferentism - "It's all the same god anyway."
  • Agnosticism - "There's no way to prove any of this; what's the point in trying?"
  • Consumerism - "I pick and choose the beliefs that fit me."
  • Individualism - "I don't believe in organized religion."
A student in last semester's class once asked me if I was going to teach an "open minded" or a "closed minded" world religions course. It would behoove me to go into what that means.

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