Week 3: This week we are discussing religion in general. Rudolf Otto argued that religion arises psychologically from a sense of “awe and mystery” (Sourcebook, pp. 29ff). Carl Gustav Jung, an early disciple of Freud, described religion as something that grew out of the individual’s need to arrive at personal fulfillment or individuation. Many religious insignia can be seen as symbols for this search. What do you think of these interpretations of religion? Did either Otto or Jung strike a chord with you? What kind of religious symbols do you think Jung was referring to? Or do you agree with Freud that religion is nothing more than a ‘childhood delusion’? Discuss during Week 3.
Week 4: One characteristic of Native American or indigenous religions is the concept of sacred space and sacred time. Have you ever experienced a place that seems particularly special or sacred? Consider and in buildings. What contributes to your feeling about these locations? Have we lost this sense of “sacred place,” so that “going to church” loses much of its symbolism? Discuss during Week 4.
Week 5: After reading the proofs for the existence of God, especially the 5 ways of St Thomas Aquinas (Sourcebook, pp.83-86), did any of them convince you? What about the ontological proof of St. Anselm (Sourcebook, pp.78-80)? Did it convince you? Or Descartes’ version? If the answer is no (and it usually is), then what purpose do you think these proofs serve? Would it make a difference if the proofs were beefed up, made better? How would Jesus have responded to such attempts to prove the existence of God? Discuss during Week 5.
Week 6: The prophet Amos spoke out against the injustices of the Northern Kings of Israel. He set the tone for centuries of prophetical figures in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. A central theme of the prophetical tradition is social justice. Read Amos 2:6-16; 5:14-15 in this regard. Do you think churches have done enough with regard to social inequality, poverty, injustice, and so on? What one issue do you think churches should address today (e.g., immigration reform, universal health care)? Feel free to comment honestly but respect other students’ views respectfully. Discuss during Week 6.
Follow-up video: Judaism and Social Justice