Academic Study of Religion

This is a video clip for the Religious Studies department at GSU. I’m in it… I have much shorter hair then.

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May 7, 2014 · 12:11 pm


Georgia State University                                                          SPRING 2009


CRN:18608    section:005

Location: Classroom South 510

Instructor: Daley

Class times: Tues/Thurs 11:00-12:15

Office hours: Mon/Wed 1:30-2:30 pm, Tues/Thurs 9:30-10:30 am

Office: room #1147  11th floor of34 Peachtree Street 

Motto: “You don’t have to believe anything, but you must know everything.”

“Religion and Literature is a discipline that was developed at the Universityof Chicagoin the 1940’s and 1950’s. The desire of these scholars is to examine the problematic of religion in the modern world. We explore basic human questions, such as those of identity, community, ethical action, and spirituality and how those have been expressed in literature. The language of such an exploration is sometimes specifically Christian; sometimes it interprets Christian language in a new way; sometimes, it is in deep disagreement with Western tradition and seeks a new way, but often, the religious meanings are developing and hybrid, using a number of traditions in syncretic ways.”   -Dr. Carolyn Medine

 Description of course: We will examine how religious institutions, beliefs, and values have been presented in and challenged within novels. Readings include selected novels and short stories as well as theoretical work done by scholars working in the field of religion and literature. Topics will include the Enlightenment, religious and literary reactions to the Enlightenment, Colonialism and confinement literature, literal and theoretical pilgrimage and rite of passage, as well as, various cultural definitions of manhood.

Primary learning objectives:

By the end of this course, students will be well-versed in the Western tradition’s methods of construction of the “self,” be it through religious designation, cognition (Descartes), narration (autobiography), or via the “self/other” dichotomy.   

 Course requirements:

*Students are required to complete ALL assignments by the due date.*

*Students must come to class well-prepared to be actively engaged on the topic of the day. This requires students to read all materials assigned.*

*Students must bring their textbook and course copy packet with them to class each day.*

Section I- Religion and Science/ Gods and Monsters– Western religion is still reeling from the overwhelming effects of the 18th century Enlightenment. The Age of Reason brought with it not only advancements in philosophy, science, and medicine, it also shed light on many superstitions. Unfortunately, Religion also came under attack. Frankenstein asks fundamental questions about the advances of science and the ethical implications of these advancements. Dracula also addresses the clash between Old World superstition and The Age of Reason. Both novels navigate the borders between divinity and humanity, as well as bounds of monstrosity.

Section II- The Hero Journey and Rite of Passage – First, we will address rite of passage’s movement “underground,” from, solely, the realm of Religion spreading into multiple cultural expressions, such as Literature. Looking at the structure of rite of passage and the hero journey will assist us in recognizing these patterns in certain pieces of literature. Using Joseph Campbell’s monomyth concept, we will gain a richer insight into the ritual movement in The Alchemist.

The primary movement of a rite of passage, as illustrated by cultural anthropologist Victor Turner, is one from innocence, as initiate, to experience, as re-incorporated society member. The initiate moves from a state of innocence through a trial or trials, in which he or she is marked, and re-enters the community transformed. This ritual movement manifests itself in certain literary texts, such as the novel we will examine, To Kill a Mockingbird

 Section III- Manhood and Courage- What makes a man a man? Despite the obvious physical demarcations which separate male and female, cultures also assign certain personality traits, skills, and actions as “natural” for men and women. American culture is no different, often assigning courage as a masculine attribute. We will explore the relationship between manhood and courage in two remarkable novels, Montana 1948 and A Lesson Before Dying.

REQUIRED TEXTS- The following are the required texts for this course. It is your job to have them, read them, and BRING THEM TO CLASS, as we will be working with them each day. Books are located at the GSU bookstore… you can also find them online.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Signet Classics, 2000, 978-0-451-52771-4

Dracula by Bram Stoker, Bantam Classics, 1983, 0-0553-21271-0

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, HarperPerennial, 1998, 0-06-250218-2

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Warner Books, 1960, 0-446-31078-6

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson, Washington SquarePress, Pocket Books, 1993, 0-671-50703-6

A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1993, 0-679-45561-2

Course copy packet  from The Print Shop (you will need the CRN #)

Grading policy:

100 %= A+                 99-96%= A               90-95%= A-                 

86-89%= B+               83-85%= B                80-82%= B-

76-79%= C+               73-75%=C                 70-72%=C-

60-69%= D                 59% or below= F


Test 1: 25%

Test 2: 25%

Paper: 20%

Final exam: 30% (in-class essay exam)

 Papers: All papers written for this class must be typed, double-spaced, 12 point font, and between 5-7 pages in length. ALL SOURCES MUST BE DOCUMENTED and listed on a WORKS CITED PAGE at the end of your paper. Please use MLA documentation style.

 Attendance policy: Students should attend class regularly. You will not receive an attendance grade. However, a word of caution, there is a direct correlation between students who come to class and those who do well in this class.

 Make-up examination and late papers: Emergency cases only: Should a student miss an exam due to an emergency, they must provide official documentation explaining why they missed the exam: for example: a doctor’s note, a tow-truck slip, a note from another academic or government office. Make-up exams must be completed within 1 week of the original exam date. All make-up exams will be different from the original exam. One letter grade will automatically be deducted from all papers turned in late. Papers turned in more than one week late will not be accepted.

ONLINE: Summary:

ONLINE: Romanticism- a reaction to the Enlightenment-

ONLINE: Read the myth of Prometheus:

ONLINE: Read summary of Rime of the Ancient Mariner:

Joseph Campbell- Hero Journey Diagram

Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth

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NRM: Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Movements

NRM: Intro. To Christianity, Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Movements

I. Introduction to Christianity:

A. Using the structure of the Nicene Creed, be able to identify the main tenants in Christianity such as: the Trinity, God as creator, Jesus as God incarnate, Jesus’ life and death, belief in the foundation of the church, baptism, and resurrection

B. I use this creed to show the power of creeds and doctrine in the construction of Christian traditions and also to emphasize the arguments among early Christians which led to a particular kind of Christianity dominating the western world.

            The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.[1] 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made[2],
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate[3] from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures[4];
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I. Chapter Name: “Symbol and Sign in Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal Spirituality”:

(This is a summary of a chapter found in Timothy Miller’s book, America’s Alternative Religions… the chapter itself was written by Charles Edwin Jones).

  A. What church did Methodism start within? The Church of England (Anglican Church)

  B. Who started the Methodist movement? John Wesley (an Anglican priest) gathered students together at  Oxford (1729-1735 c.e.), not with the intention to make a new denomination but rather so students could focus on what he termed entire sanctification (aka Christian Perfectionism)

      focus on: 1. lively preaching, 2. intenerate preaching, 3. focus on spiritual rebirth,

      4. free will, 5. perfectionism, 6. Bible studies and Christian living

  C. The Methodist Holiness movement focused on not just initial sanctification (forgiveness of sins) but also on what?

ENTIRE SANTIFICATION/ CHRISTIAN PERFECTIONISM: where by a Christian, through the grace of God , could strive for perfectionism and maybe before death reach the state where the taint of original sin was washed away.

 D. What was the event called the Pentecost by Christians

Book of Acts ch. 2: 1-4 (in the New Testament) (NIV 2010)

1 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

VIDEO: (start at roughly 1 hour to 1 hour 5 minutes)

            Anglican Church Methodism (Wesley brothers)

2 movements have roots in Methodism but stood outside the Methodist structure: Holiness movement (Wesley and Palmer) and the Pentecostal movement

           BOTH  MOVEMENTS:

      1. present activity of Holy Spirit

       2. looking for Jesus’ return

       3. postconversion experiences of purity and power (bapt.of the Holy Spirit)

E. Who was Phoebe Palmer and in what ways did she alter the ideas around entire sanctification? Palmer simplified and popularized John Wesley’s doctrine of entire sanctification modifying it 6 different ways:

    1. entire sanctification (baptism of the Holy Spirit)

    2. Holiness with Power

    3. Instantaneous elements of sanctification

    4. entire sanctification (not goal but beginning of Christian life)

    5. “altar theology” (place oneself on the altar as a sacrifice to God)

    6. no evidence needed other than the Biblical text to be assured of entire sanctification

 F.  Phoebe Palmer emphasized the role of women (ability to prophecy)

 G. The Pentecostal movement views what activities as evidence of the Holy Spirit? prophecy, laying on  of hands, and glossolalia (speaking in tongues), Services are often very loud and jubilant

 VIDEO: Atlanta West Pentecostal Church 10:15 am Praise Break

  H. What 2 locations are most often associated with the start of the Pentecostal movement?

    1. Charles F. Parham’s Bible College in Topeka Kansas (student spoke in tongues in 1900)

    2. Azusa Street Apostolic Mission in LA- mission led by a student of Parham’s, William Seymour, an  African  American evangelical minister (started in 1906)          

J. Pentecostal focus on the “end times” and modern prophecy and signs

K. Various kinds of “signs” found in Pentecostal movements:

                        1. Glossolalia: speaking in tongues

            VIDEO: Bill Maher’s film Religious, Speaking in Tongues clip

             (how might this clip show a very limited perspective on glossolalia?)

                        2. Laying on of Hands

                        3. In some small churches in Appalachia: Snake Handling: (often called signs churches)

                        Biblical references: the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Luke

  VIDEO: Snake handlers of Appalachia


[1] This part of the creed is often noted as an easy way to identify Gnostic Christians… since some Gnostic Christians believed that Jesus’ god was not the same as the Jewish creator god. This also emphasizes the monotheistic nature of the Christian religion.

[2] Many early Christians debated about the nature of the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One group of Christians set themselves apart, and ended up on the losing side of history in the Western Church, by declaring that God the Father was inherently superior over God the Son.

[3] Early Christian communities argued over Jesus’ nature. So Christians believed in docetism (from the root ‘to seem’) and described Jesus as only ‘seeming’ to have a human (fleshy) body. Supposedly Gnostics would not have supported a creed which emphasized Jesus’ manifestation in the flesh, believing the material world to be inferior to the spiritual world.

[4] The scriptures included not only the sacred texts which the early Christians will authorize but also the Hebrew Bible/TaNaKh/ Jewish Sciptures. This is significant because presumably some Gnostic Christians did not support including Jewish scripture into the Christian Bible. Obviously, this opinion was not shared by the successful church authorities of the day, due to the fact that Jewish scripture remains a vital component of the Christian Bible.

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What the blog is:

This blog is dedicated to the academic study of religion. The goal of the blog is to help students and teachers navigate the history of religion.

What the blog is not:

This blog is not associated with any religious tradition or any anti-religious organization. I will not approve any comments which use offensive language or derogatory comments about religious traditions or religious peoples.

Feel free to disagree with the information posted. I am open to conversation and questions but please be respectful.

Thank you!

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Very Basic Introduction to Islam

Information/terms to assist you with the reading (I created this brief summary for my NRM students who needed some supplemental background information regarding why many American NRMs were invoking terms sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and what these concepts signified for the older “mother” traditions.)

A. Quick Introduction to Islam: Islam (the root word) means “submission” or “surrender”. Islam requires surrender to the one god, Allah, the god of Abraham. Muslims are those who submit to Allah and follow His prophets .Muslims believe that Muhammad was the last of God’s prophets, the seal of the prophets.

Not all Muslims are Arab, not all Arabs are Muslims, Muslims live all over the world.  Muhammad, according to Islam, came to re-establish the monotheism of Abraham. Muhammad, although greatly revered, is just the messenger … he is human, not divine, he is the instrument through which the word of God… the Qur’an came to earth. Muslims believe that Allah (Arabic name for the one creator God) sent revelations (in Arabic) to Muhammad, just as Allah had sent previous messages. These revelations are referred to as The Qur’an (also spelled Koran) and it is thought to be the literal voice of Allah speaking to mankind. The Qur’an contains references to important individuals in other Abrahamic religious traditions… such as Moses, Abraham, Jesus, and Mary, the mother of Jesus.

The Prophet Muhammad (570-632 c.e.) was born in Mecca (now in Saudi Arabia). He was born into a powerful tribe in that area called the Quraysh. Mecca was a site of pilgrimage for many tribes around Mecca, the tribes would come to Mecca to worship their idols in the Kaaba, a large rectangular building believed by many Muslims to have been built by Abraham. Mecca was a powerful and wealthy trading center due to its religious significance. Muhammad accompanied his uncle on trade routes and became a well-respected merchant and caravan driver. His nickname was al-amin (the trustworthy). He worked for a wealthy widow who later became his 1st wife, Khadijah. Muhammad was a monotheist, he often spent time on spiritual retreat on Mt. Hira. During one of these retreats, when Muhammad was 40 years old, he has a vision of the angel Gabriel (Jibril, in Arabic). Gabriel tells Muhammad that he has been chosen by Allah to be a prophet to his people. This is the beginning of the transmission of the revelations of the holy Qur’an in Islam. These revelations come to Muhammad over 22-23 years until the time of his death.

Muhammad begins telling close friends and relatives about the revelations. He builds up a small group of believers around him. Muhammad preached monotheism… and as his small group of believers grew… the more the Quraysh, the large tribe of tribes, worried that if this monotheism spread the less the surrounding tribes will come to Mecca to worship idols in the kaaba. In 619 c.e. , Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, and the uncle who had raised him and protected him from the wrath of the Quraysh, Abu Talib, both died (this year is known as the “year of sorrows”). Muhammad and his followers faced intimidation, rejection, and out right assault from powerful Meccans that saw Muhammad and his followers as threats to polytheism in Mecca and the money that came from the various pilgrims visiting the Kaaba to worship their tribal gods. Muhammad and his community receive an invite to a small own called Yathrib… he decides to leave Mecca due to the hostility his followers faced.

The hijrah (emmigration) from Mecca to Yathrib (later called Medina which means “city of the Prophet) takes place in 622 c. e. and this marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar. In 630 c. e., Muhammad and the Muslims of Yathrib retake Mecca. Muhammad “cleanses” the Kaaba of idols and rededicates the Kaaba. Two years later (632 c.e.) Muhammad dies in Medina and the ummah (community of Muslims) elect Abu Bakr as the new community leader, according to Sunni Muslims (roughly 80% of the Muslim population). Abu Bakr becomes the first rightly-guided Caliph (leader of the Muslim community). The Shia (the other 20% of the Muslim community) believe that Muhammad had previously endorsed Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law, before his death.

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Very Basic Introduction to Western Christianity

Information/terms to assist you with the reading (I created this brief summary for my NRM students who needed some supplemental background information regarding why many American NRMs were invoking terms sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and what these concepts signified for the older “mother” traditions.)

This summary written by Katherine Daley-Bailey.

Christianity: (Christians) Christianity is a religion that sprang up within Judaism. Jesus of Nazareth, who Christians refer to as the Messiah (Jewish concept meaning anointed one, chosen one, kingly one) or Christ (Greek translation of messiah), was born a Jew. His family was Jewish. They participated in Jewish holidays and Jesus seems even to have been educated in the Jewish law. The earliest Christians were Jews… so Christianity only makes sense if you know something about the religion it grew out of. Christianity, as new religion, based itself of various distinguishing marks (that separated it from Judaism). Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth was not only a Jewish wise man but that he was God incarnate (in the flesh). Jews don’t believe that Jesus was God in human form. Christians believe that Jesus was raised from the dead and that this resurrection awaits all faithful followers after death. Jews believe that Jesus was a human being and died a human death. Christians believe that they are the “new Israel”… the new “chosen ones” of God. Jesus, according to Christianity, came back from the dead to tell his early followers to go forth into the world and declare the gospel, the “good news.”

Texts: Early Christians saw the Jewish scriptures (the TaNaKh) as predicting the arrival of Jesus. According to these Christians, their relationship with God had changed… since Jesus’ followers believed that God was with them in the flesh, was killed, and then rose from the dead. The early followers of Jesus began to tell others of Jesus’ story (the gospel). Over time, four versions of the Jesus story were considered authoritative. Christian leaders felt that if Christians were to truly understand Jesus they must know the earlier Jewish scriptures as well as the new scriptures (the gospel stories, etc.). For this reason, Christians included the earlier Jewish scriptures along with these stories about Jesus and the early Church in their Christian Bible.

Leaders: Christians believe that Jesus told his followers to tell His story… and that this requirement was passed on to all Christians. The earliest followers to go out and preach about Jesus are referred to as Apostles (messengers). Fifty days after Jesus was resurrected from the dead, Christians believe that the Holy Spirit (another member of the Christian trinity along with God, the father, and, God the son) came down to where these early followers were and gave them the ability to speak in various languages (speak in tongues) so that they could go all over the world and tell people about Jesus. This event is referred to as the Pentecost. Christianity developed its own structure … a hierarchy with the bishop of Rome (the Pope) ruling over other bishops, and they rule over different geographical regions. Various early Christians rebelled against the structures of belief of the church leader who held power and were thereby thrown out of the church and deemed “heretics.”

Later some Christian bishops thought the bishop of Rome should share power with them and this led to a split in the church. In 1054 c.e., the Western Latin speaking Christians under the leadership of the Pope and the Eastern Greek speaking Christians on the side of the various Eastern bishops, excommunicated (ousted) each other from the church. The Western Church is known as the Catholic Church and the Eastern Church is known as the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Western Church centered in Rome went through troubled times as the Roman Empire shifted its center to the East. When the Roman Empire in the West crumbled, a power vacuum opened up and the Western (aka Catholic) Church and the Pope began to play a huge role in the politics of Europe.

Schisms: The Catholic Church encountered interior opposition in the early 1500s. The Catholic Church held massive political power in Europe at the time. However, there were numerous criticisms among the clergy (ordained) and the lay (not ordained) communities in the church. Martin Luther, a young Catholic priest, was encouraged by his advisor to study the Bible (remember that very few people could read and even a smaller percentage could read Latin (Latin Bible= Vulgate), the language in which the official authorized version of the Bible was written in). Luther started to study the Bible and found what he saw were inconsistencies between Church doctrine and laws and what was written in the holy book.

Luther wrote a list of questionable practices and theological ideas that he felt were problematic and nailed a copy of this text (The Ninety-Five Thesis) to the church door in Wittenberg on Oct. 31st, 1517. When Luther would not recant his statements against the Catholic Church, he was excommunicated. He would later go on to translate the Bible into German. This allowed those who could read German access to the text. Thanks to the invention of the printing press, literacy rates shot up and many more people could read the Bible. Luther believed that man was saved by sola fide (faith alone)… whereas the Catholic Church believes that man is saved by faith and works (good deeds and merit). Luther believed that a Christian only needed access to the Bible (sola scriptura= scripture alone) to be a good Christian… whereas the Catholic Church emphasized a Christian’s need of scripture and tradition (along with the Church’s guiding influence to help Christians understand that scripture). Luther and those who split with the Catholic Church were called Protestants… because they “protested” against the Catholic Church. Since these Protestant Christians believed they could interpret the Bible on their own, these Christians often disagreed over their interpretations and this caused many to start their own churches.

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Very Basic Introduction to Judaism

Information/terms to assist you with the reading (I created this brief summary for my NRM students who needed some supplemental background information regarding why many American NRMs were invoking terms sacred to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and what these concepts signified for the older “mother” traditions.)

This summary written by Katherine Daley-Bailey.

Judaism: (Jews) This religion is an ancient tradition spanning thousands of years. Jews see themselves as descendants of the Hebrews (a nomadic people), the ancient Israelites (belonging to the kingdom of Israel dating to around 1000 b.c.e), and the people of Judah (people of Judah= Jews). For Jews, this religious history, documented in their Bible, tells the story of their ancestors and explains their unique relationship with the God of the Hebrews. The Bible tells of a relationship between the God of the Hebrews and the patriarch Abraham. God promises Abraham many descendents and a special land if Abraham will worship only Him. Jews view themselves as descendents of Abraham and thereby heirs to this promise and land. The “promised land” that Jews believe was given to them is roughly the same space as the current nation of Israel.

Texts: Jews are often referred to as “the people of the book” because of the central role sacred texts play in their religion. The core of these sacred texts is called the TaNaKh (an acronym which stands for Torah (“the Law”, the 1st 5 books in this text), the Nevi’im (the Prophetic texts), and the Ketuvim (the other writings). (To be continued)

Leaders: The Bible speaks of a time when the Jews had a temple in the city of Jerusalem. This temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 c.e. and has never been rebuilt. The temple had been run by temple priests, specially trained officials. After the temple was destroyed, Judaism no longer needed a priesthood and the religion became dominated by very wise, learned, Jewish men named Rabbis. After the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, more emphasis was placed on the local community centers of Jews, called synagogues.

Time: Judaism has been credited with pioneering the concept of linear time (meaning that time has a definitive beginning and will have a definitive end). Prior to this concept, most scholars believe that a majority of people worshipped nature gods and goddesses and believed time was cyclical (modeling the agricultural cycle). Believing that their God acts in history, when they fell on hard times and they saw no way out, Jews have historically believed that God would intervene on their behalf in some way.

Identity: Just as Jews believe that their God gave them a “promised land”, they also believe that their God has picked them as His “chosen people.” This means there are special laws (behavioral- diet, ritual, etc.) that they must follow. Sometimes Judaism is described as a religion and an ethnicity… and a way of life. Some Jews believe you must have a Jewish mother to be Jewish, although this is a matter of debate.

References to this “promised land”: Zion, Israel, Judah, the “land of milk and honey”, etc.

Exodus: After many generations, the descendents of Abraham, known then as the Hebrews ended up as state slaves in Egypt. The God of the Hebrews heard of their suffering under slavery and called upon a man name Moses to help liberate them. After much back and forth with the Egyptian ruler, the pharaoh, Moses was able to lead the “children of Israel” out of slavery in Egypt. However, as they were traveling, the pharaoh changes his mind and sends chariots after the slaves. Moses is left leading the Hebrew slaves into a barren wilderness with the Egyptian chariots at their back. They come to the Red Sea and Moses calls upon God to help them. The Hebrew God parts the Red Sea, allowing the Hebrew slaves to run through to the other side and then He lets the sea crash upon the Egyptian chariots. The Hebrew slaves are now free but they are tired, hungry, and not sure where this “promised land” is that they are supposed to find. Moses is leading them but they grumble against him. While Moses is talking to the Hebrew God on Mount Sinai, the slaves decide to make an idol to worship. This makes God and Moses extremely upset because their agreement with God is worship only Him. The Hebrew God kills some of those who participated and tells the rest that because of their sin, they will spend 40 years in the wilderness before they can enter the land he promised them. After 40 years, Moses dies, and Joshua, his successor, leads the Hebrew slaves into the “promised land.” However, there are other people living in this land. Joshua and the Hebrew slaves must drive out the other inhabitants. This is referred to as the “conquest for Canaan.” This land will become the ancient kingdom of Israel and the center of the kingdom will be Jerusalem. These ideas and images will be invoked again and again by Jews and Christians. Each group will depict themselves as the “chosen ones of God”, “the children of Abraham”, the true Israel, and will believe this story to be THEIR story. For American movements often the “promised land” is not Jerusalem but there is a NEW Jerusalem, America itself.

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Timothy Miller’s NRM syllabus terms

Timothy Miller’s NRM syllabus terms


A.D. :“Anno Domini,” i.e., “In the year of the Lord.” The word “Domini” makes a theological

claim (that Jesus is Lord); a more neutral and generally accepted usage is C.E., “Common Era.”

Altar: A raised platform or table for religious sacrifices or other ceremonial use. Note correct

spelling (not alter).

B.C. :”Before Christ.” The word “Christ” (=Messiah) makes a theological claim (that Jesus was

the Messiah); a more neutral and generally accepted usage is B.C.E., “Before the Common Era.”

Bible: Literally “book”; principal book of sacred writings for Christians and Jews. Always

capitalized, but not underlined or italicized although a book title. Similarly names of individual

books within the Bible are not underlined or italicized. The adjectival form is “biblical”;

capitalization is optional.

Canon: Literally “rule” or “list.” (1) Law of the Catholic Church. (2) The list of the saints.

Minister: Literally “servant”; noun commonly used to denote member of the clergy in


Pastor: Literally “shepherd”; used to describe a Catholic priest or Protestant minister who

oversees a parish.

Priest: Member of the clergy authorized to perform the sacraments; term widely used in

liturgical churches and in some nonchristian religions.

Rabbi: Literally “master”; authoritative teacher in Judaism.

Evangelical: (1) Conservative Protestant. (2) Having to do with the Gospel. (3) Certain


Evangelism, evangelistic: In Christianity, work aimed at making converts; literally, preaching

the gospel.

Prophet: Inspired person who speaks for God. Note spelling (not profit).

Prophecy (noun): A pronouncement made by a prophet.

Prophesy (verb): To give a prophecy.

Spiritualism, spirituality: These once interchangeable terms now have distinct meanings.

Spirituality has to do with a person’s spiritual quest or outlook. Spiritualism is a religion whose

best-known distinction is a belief that the living can communicate with the dead.

Above terms from

 Theistic religions: “religions based on one’s relationship to the divine Being” (with Being is thought to be singular= Monotheistic, “if many attributes and forms of the divine are emphasized”= Polytheistic) Monistic religions: “religions which hold that beneath the multiplicity of apparent forms there is one underlying substance.”

Atheism: “the belief that there is no deity”

Agnosticism: “is not the denial of the divine but the feeling, ‘I don’t know whether exists or not,’ or the belief that if it exists it is impossible for humans to know it”

Ritual: “a repeated, patterned religious act”

Symbols: “visible representation of an invisible reality or concept”

Myths: “symbolic stories that communities use to explain the universe and their place within it”

Orthodoxy: straight/ correct belief

Orthopraxy: straight/ correct practice

Heresy: from the Greek “to choose”

Epistemology: beliefs concerning the basis of knowledge (What are our sources for valid knowledge?)

Ontology: study of the nature of reality (What is really real?)

Eschatology: study of the “end times”

Soteriology: study of a doctrine of salvation

Syncretism: “the process of combining religious elements of diverse origins in a new sect or movement”

Millenialism: (lit. thousand year) “the Christian belief in the thousand- year reign of Christ and his saints on earth as described in Revelation 20:1-10”

Premillienialists: believe in a future when Jesus will rule in Jerusalem before the Judgment. (Jesus comes back to start 1000 year reign of peace)

Postmillenialists: believe in a future when Jesus will return after 1000 year golden age

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Introduction to Timothy Miller’s book, America’s Alternative Religions

I.Introduction to America’s Alternative Religions:

  A. American religion since late 1900s:1. diversification, 2. decentralization, 3. largest denominations losing #s, 4. world religions on the rise, 5. changes within largest traditional denominations  (i.e. charismatic movement)

  B. Purpose of this book, America’s Alternative Religions edited by Timothy Miller, $32.95 Paperback, Release Date: July 1995, ISBN10: 0-7914-2398-0, ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2398-1

    1. Introduction to various religions 

    2. give a sense of historical development of groups in question

    3. objective sketch

  C. Alternative terminology:

    1. sect= usually refers to a dissident group that has separated from another   (usually mainstream)

    2. cult= small, intense religious group whose ties to mainstream groups are  less pronounced, usually led by   a  single  charismatic leader

  (academics avoid these terms due to the words’ pejorative nature)

    3. other terms to use: marginal, nonmainstream, new religious movement

    4. alternative religions

  D. Mainstream and Alternative: Finding the Dividing Line

    1. center and margin

    2. Mainstream American Religions: usually described as Christian and Jewish

    The Catholic Church

    Protestant Denominations

    3 Nationally prominent movements in Judaism (Orthodox, Conservative, Reform)

    Eastern Orthodox Christianity

  3. Protestant groups: “all Christendom not encompassed by Catholicism   or Eastern Orthodox Christianity”

  prominent: Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, Disciples of   Christ, Baptists, Presbyterians, the United Church of Christ,   nondemoninational churches

  demonination= “a  religious organization whose congregations are united in their adherence to its beliefs and  practices” (

  Identifiable hallmark: tolerance… belief that these main denominations “are   all essentially legitimate expressions of the historic Christian faith.” (3)

  4. Mainstream Jewish groups: Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, and   Reconstructionist

  5. Catholicism: still largely a single organization, kept many dissidents at   bay excommunication) 

  6. Eastern Orthodox: composed of some dozens of independent historic   churches united by history and common cause

  7. “mainstream” term is historically and geographically located

  E. The Alternative Religions:

  Are there any clear markers to distinguish between the mainstream and alternative religions?


1. Leadership:  usually have educated, paid clergy              
2. Organization: usually highly structured                               
3. Size: mainstream religions are often the largest               
4. Membership: birthright, less demanding                             
5. Worship: orderly, calm, preplanned worship                    
6. Dedication to duty: usually once a week                             
 7. Social status: usually more connected to wealthy         
1. tend to have charismatic, lay leadership
2. tend to be less structured
3. tend to be smaller
4. emphasis on moral community
5. fervent spontaneous services
6. more substantial demands
7. usually appeal to poor and uneducated

**None of these 7 categorical markers are entirely or mainly accurate**

  F. The Alternative Scene:

  How many people are part of these alternative religions in America?

  G. Hostility toward alternative religions not new (5)

  H. Why do people join?

  Transformation: Victor Turner and others… “the initiate joining a new   religion or making other comparable life changes is in a state of liminality,   of transition”

  I. Totalism?

  “Most sustained example of ‘totalism’ in the Western world has been Catholic   monasticism…” obedience, voluntary poverty, sexual abstinence, lifetime  commitment

  J. The influence of these alternative religions?

   1965: The repeal of the Asian Exclusion Act:

 Used to limit immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe:

  “Congress passed the Quota Act of 1921, limiting entrants from each nation to 3 percent of that nationality’s presence in the U.S. population as recorded by the 1910 census. As a result, immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe dropped to less than one-quarter of pre-World War I levels. Even more restrictive was the Immigration Act of 1924 (Johnson-Reed Act) that shaped American immigration policy until the 1960s.”

  “During congressional debate over the 1924 Act, Senator Ellison DuRant Smith of South Carolina drew on the racist theories of Madison Grant to argue that immigration restriction was the only way to preserve existing American resources.”

  Used to discourage Asian Indian immigrants from seeking citizenship: “In its decision in the case of U.S. v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923), the Supreme Court deemed Asian Indians ineligible for citizenship because U.S. law allowed only free whites to become naturalized citizens. The court conceded that Indians were “Caucasians” and that anthropologists considered them to be of the same race as white Americans, but argued that “the average man knows perfectly well that there are unmistakable and profound differences.” The Thind decision also led to successful efforts to denaturalize some who had previously become citizens. This represented a particular threat in California, where a 1913 law prohibited aliens ineligible for citizenship from owning or leasing land.”

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New Religious Movements syllabus spring 2011



CRN: 17146 Spring 2011   Classroom: General Classroom 617  Instructor: Daley

Class times: 12-1:15 pm Mondays and Wednesdays

Office hours: 10-11 am Mondays and Wednesdays 

Office: room #1147  11th floor of 34 Peachtree Street     Contact:

Motto: “You don’t have to believe anything, but you must know everything.” Dr. Thomas Slater

Course Description: This course will focus on New Religious Movements primarily in the context of theUnited States.  The term “new,” in this instance, refers to religious developments within the last three hundred years. Topics include but are not limited to the following: the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints, the Holiness and Pentecostal movements, the Adventist and Jehovah’s Witness movements, Christian Science, the Nation of Islam, African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement, Hasidism, Neo-Paganism, Sufism inAmerica, as well as modern variations in Catholicism.

Primary learning objectives: By the end of this course, students will be able to discuss the theoretical components which usually constitute a religious tradition. Students will be able to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the origins and historical context of the topics listed above in an articulate manner in both academic discussions and through the written word.

Course requirements:

*Students are required to complete ALL assignments by the due date.*

*Students must come to class well-prepared to be actively engaged on the topic of the day. This requires students to read all materials assigned.*

*Students should bring their course textbook(s) with them to class each day.*

Course assignments:

Terms quiz: 10%

2 Tests each 25%= 50% 

1 Final=30%

Group Project=10%

Assignment details:  Class attendance and participation requires that a student come to class on time, be prepared to discuss the homework assigned and actively engage themselves in the class. All tests will consist of matching, multiple choice, and two short-essay questions.

Grading policy:

100- 98%= A+             97-93%= A                92-90%= A-                

86-89%= B+                 83-85%= B                  80-82%= B-

76-79%= C+               73-75%=C                 70-72%=C-

69-60%= D                 59% or below= F

Attendance policy: Students should attend class regularly. You will not receive an attendance grade. However, a word of caution, there is a direct correlation between students who come to class and those who do well in this class.

Make-up examination and late papers: Emergency cases only: Should a student miss an exam due to an emergency, they must provide official documentation explaining why they missed the exam: for example: a doctor’s note, a tow-truck slip, a note from another academic or government office. Make-up exams must be completed within 1 week of the original exam date. All make-up exams will be different from the original exam. One letter grade will automatically be deducted from all papers turned in late.

Required course materials:

  1. America’s Alternative Religions edited by Timothy Miller, $32.95 Paperback, Release Date: July 1995, ISBN10: 0-7914-2398-0, ISBN13: 978-0-7914-2398-1
  2. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
  3. Sacred Matters by Gary Laderman

Recommended: Course copy packet from The Print Shop (you will need the CRN #)

*** “The course syllabus provides a general plan for the course; deviations may be necessary.”***

***Important Date: Feb. 25th: Midpoint (last day to withdraw) ***

Week 1: Snow week

 Week 2: Monday, Jan. 17th **No Class** MLK Jr. Holiday

Wednesday, Jan. 19th Introduction (Miller) and Terms

HW: Course Packet (CP) The Transformation of American Religion (Porterfield), (CP) Miller Introduction p.1-10, Miller chapter 2 p. 23-32

 Week 3: Monday, Jan. 24th Brief Overview (with Porterfield highlights) and Methodist Holiness and Pentecostal spirituality (Miller chapter 2)

 HW: Miller chapter 4 p.47-59

Wednesday, Jan. 26th Methhodist Holiness and Pentecostal cont’d

 Week 4: Monday, Jan. 31st Finish Holiness and Pentacostal, Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: (CP) Hackett- Genesis of Mormonism p. 167- 184

Wednesday, Feb. 2nd  Continued Revelation- Mormonism/ Latter Day Saints Churches

HW: Miller chapter 5 p. 61-68, p.99

 Week 5: Monday, Feb. 7th Christian Science and American Culture, Contemporary Christian and Jewish Movements

 HW: read Miller chapter 9 p.101-107, chapter 10 p. 109-117

Wednesday, Feb. 9th Roman Catholic Traditions and Hasidism and Its Effects on Alternative Jewish in America

HW: read Miller p. 231, 233-242, 275, 277-283,

Week 6: Monday, Feb. 14th  **TERMS QUIZ**Expressions of Islam in America and Black Jews and Black Muslims, Nation of Islam

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (Introduction, chapters 1-2)

Wednesday, Feb. 16th The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 3-10)

 Week 7: Monday, Feb. 21st  The Autobiography of Malcolm X

 HW: The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters 11-15)

Wednesday, Feb. 23rd The Autobiography of Malcolm X

HW: finish The Autobiography of Malcolm X (chapters16-19),(CP) Hackett- Martin and Malcolm p. 407-421

 **Feb. 28th– Mar. 6th: Spring Break**

 Week 8: Monday, March 7th The Autobiography of Malcolm X (conclusions)

  HW: read Miller chapter 23 p. 249-258, (CP) Smithsonian Article on Sufism p. 37-47

Wednesday, March 9th Sufism in America

HW: Read Miller p. 275, (CP) Hackett- African Americans, Exodus, and the American Israel p.73- 86

Week 9: Monday, March 14th African American Christianity and the Civil Rights movement

HW: read Miller chapter 28 p. 291-296, chapter 33 p. 331-337

Wednesday, March 16th Test 1

 Week 10: Monday, March 21st Santeria and Vodou in the U.S. and Spiritualism and Channeling

HW: Read (CP) Hackett- The Lakota Ghost Dance p. 327-342

Wednesday, March 23rd The Lakota Ghost Dance (clip about the Ghost Dance in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee)

 HW: Sacred Matters Introduction (xiii-xviii) and Chapter 1: Film (1-22)

 Week 11: Monday, March 28th Sacred Matters

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 2: Music (23- 42)

Wednesday, March 30th (Guest lecturer: Christa Lasher, topic: Wicca and Neo-Paganism)

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 3: Sports (43-62), Chapter 4: Celebrity (63-84)

Week 12: Monday, April 4th Sacred Matters

Wednesday, April 6th: Test 2

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 5: Science (85-102), Chapter 6: Medicine (103-122)

 Week 13: Monday, April 11th Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 7: Violence (123-140)

Wednesday, April 13th: Sacred Matters

HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 8: Sexuality (141-160), Article: The Religious Theft of Sacred Culture (

 Week 14: Monday, April 18th: (Guest lecturer: Kenny Smith, topic: New Religious Movements)

 HW: Sacred Matters Chapter 9: Death (161-180)

Wednesday, April 20th: Sacred Matters

 Week 15: Monday, April 25th: conclusions

**The final exam will be given during the appointed final exam period.**

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