RLST 2400 Religion and Contemporary Society
Dr. Ira Chernus
In this course we will look at contemporary United States society, using the concepts and methods of academic religious studies as our basic tools. The course will not focus on organized religion (Protestants, Jews, Buddhists, etc.). Rather, we will give most of our attention to the values and cultural patterns that people in the U.S. tend to share in common—what we often call secular life. We will see how religious studies can shed new light upon our everyday secular life.
The ideas in this course are meant to be complex, difficult, and challenging. You are not expected to understand them all perfectly or in complete detail. But you should be able to grasp the main themes clearly, understand at least some of them in good detail, and put some of them together to develop new ideas of your own. Most importantly, by the end of the course you should be seeing “contemporary society”—which means the everyday world around you in the U.S.—in new, more complex, and more interesting ways.
Peter BERGER, The Sacred Canopy
Leonardo and Clodovis BOFF, Introducing Liberation Theology
Charlene SPRETNAK, The Resurgence of the Real
You should order these books through your favorite online site. You will need the BERGER book for the very first part of the course. You will read the other two books toward the end of the course.
Your grade in this course will be based on two midterm exams and a final exam. All exams will be essay format.