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Syllabus for Contemporary Religious Thought

Syllabus for Contemporary Religious Thought

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Published by AnthonyPaulSmith
Syllabus for a course on suffering and abstraction that focuses on the Book of Job and contemporary Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Marxist responses to its themes.
Syllabus for a course on suffering and abstraction that focuses on the Book of Job and contemporary Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Marxist responses to its themes.

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Published by: AnthonyPaulSmith on Feb 03, 2013
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09/23/2014

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1
ContemporaryReligiousThought
(REL240‐01,Fall2012)
WisterHall304
[MWF
11:00am–11:50am
]Instructor:Dr.AnthonyPaulSmith(smithanthony@lasalle.edu)McShainHallRoom211773‐931‐9570(cell)Officehours:MWF10:00‐11:00am,T11:00am‐12:00pmorbyappointment
CourseDescription
“WhereisGod?WhereisHe?”someonebehindmeasked...Formorethanhalfanhour[thechildinthenoose]stayedthere,strugglingbetweenlifeanddeath,dyinginslowagonyunderoureyes.Andwehadtolookhimfullintheface.HewasstillalivewhenIpassedinfrontofhim.Histonguewasstillred,hiseyeswerenotyetglazed.Behindme,Iheardthesamemanasking:“WhereisGodnow?”AndIheardavoicewithinmeanswerhim:“WhereisHe?HereHeis—Heishanginghereonthisgallows....”–ElieWiesel“Misery’stheriveroftheworld.”–TomWaitsTheexperienceofsufferingisoneofthemostprofoundinallofcreation.Peoplewhoundergosufferingoftentrytofindmeaninginwhytheyaresuffering.Someturntoreligionforthatmeaning,othersturnawayafterfeelingthatthemeaningofferedthereishollow.Butineachcase,thereissomerelationshipbetweenabstractthoughtandsuffering,betweentryingtomakesenseofwhatallofthisisandtheoverwhelmingexperiencethatseemstooutrunourabilitytoaccountforit.ThiscoursewillexaminetheproblemofsufferingandabstractthoughtbylookingatthebookofJob(thoughttobethefirstoftheHebrewScripturestobewritten)andcontemporaryresponsestothatancienttext.Theclassisecumenicalinthegreatestsenseofthatword,meaningwearenotjustgoingtoreadChristiansresponses,butwillreadtheresponsesofContemporaryJewish,Muslimandsecularthinkersaswell.Wemaynotfindanyanswerforoursuffering,butwemayhave,bytheendofitall,createdsomethinginthemidstofit.
LearningOutcomes
Uponcompletingthecoursethestudentshouldbeableto:
 
engagewithavarietyofreligiousdiscoursesandpractices;
 
understandandusedifferenttheoreticalmethodsinreligiousthought;
 
identifyandexplainthedifferentethicalandsocialpositionsarisingoutofvariousformsofreligiousexperience;
 
beabletoidentifythecentralthemesandargumentsofthetextsandstatetheminaclearandsympatheticwayinclassdiscussionthroughparticipationandleadingthediscussion;
 
beabletoformulatecriticismsinawaythatisattentivetotheoriginalauthor’sintentandargumentation.
GradeSummary
Therewillbetwotests(comprisedofshort‐answerquestionsandessayquestions),
 
2
discussions,leadingaclassseminarandpreparingaprotocol,andafinalpaper(10‐pages,double‐spaced).Eachtestwillcountfor20%(foratotalof40%)ofyourfinalgrade,leadinggroupdiscussionwillcountfor20%,thefinalpaperwillcountfor30%,andfinally10%forclassparticipation(whichincludesattendance).Itisimportantthatyoudonotmissaclassandespeciallyanexam.Anymake‐upforthein‐classexamswillonlybegivenduetoextremesituations,andthisisdoneveryrarely.
Youmusthavepriorpermissionfromtheinstructoricaltotakeamake-up
.ThepaperisdueviaBlackboard(informationonhowtosubmitwillbegivenlaterinthesemester)bytheendoftheday(11:59PM)on
Friday,May10
th
.
Thepaperistobesubmittedelectronicallyonly 
.
IpreferthatthepaperbeaPDF.
Detailsconcerningthepaper(itsformatandcontent)willbepassedoutafterthefirstexam.Latepaperswillnotbeaccepted.Cheating/plagiarismwillbedealtwithastheseriousinfractionsthattheyare,possiblyleadingtofailure;seetheAcademicIntegrityPolicyfordetails(availableontheportal).Thegradescaleisasfollows:100‐95=A,94‐90=A‐,89‐87=B+,86‐84=B,83‐80=B‐,79‐77=C+,76‐74=C,73‐70=C‐,69‐67=D+,66‐64=D,63‐60D‐,59andbelow=F
CellPhone,LaptopandTabletPolicy
WhileIunderstandtheaddictiontocellphones,especiallysmartphones,thematerialwearestudyingisverydifficultandthereforerequiresyourundividedattention.Ifyouarecaughtusingyourphoneduringalectureyouwillbegivenonewarning(eitherverballyorbyemail).Ifyouarecaughtasecondtimeormoreyouwillfaceareductionoffivepointsforeachoffensefromyourhighestscoringpieceofcoursework.
Pleaseturnallcellphonesoffduringthelecture
.IfIcandoit,socanyou.
Laptopsandtabletsareacceptableintheclass,butfornotetakingonly.Ifyouappearnottobepayingattentionbecauseyou’redistractedbysomethingnon‐lecturerelatedonyourlaptopthenIwillaskyoutoreadthelastlineofnotesyouhavejustwritten.Ifyoucan’tthenyouwillbegivenawarning(eitherverballyorbyemail).Ifyouarecaughtasecondtimeormoreyouwillfaceareductionoffivepointsforeachoffensefromyourhighestscoringpieceofcoursework.
Blackboard
PleasemakesurethatyouchecktheemailattachedtoyourBlackboardprofile.Iwillbesendingemailstothataddress.Allcoursedocuments,powerpoints,audiooflectures,andotherhelpfullinkswillbeavailableontheBlackboardcoursepage.
RemarksonLectures,Readings,Films,andClassroomDiscussions
Wearedealingwithadultthemesandarangeofdifferentbeliefsystemsinthisclass.Youwillbeexposedtodifferentwaysofthinkingbothinthereadings,thelectures,anddiscussionsinclass.Attimesyoumayfindyourselfoffendedbyoneormoreoftheideaspresentedandwhenyouarenotoffendedafellowclassmatemaywellbe.Thisisok!Whileofcourseverbalorphysicalabuse(namecalling,useofhatespeechdirectedatanotherstudent,etc.)isstrictlynottolerated,wehavetogiveeachotherpermissiontobeoffensive(withintheboundsofrespectfuldiscourse)andtobeoffended.Byremaininginthiscourseyouareagreeingtohaverespectfulconversationsaboutawiderangeofdifferentbeliefswhichmaysometimesbecomeheated.
Thisgoesespeciallyforthefilmsandclipswewillwatchinclass.AttimesIhavechosenmaterialthatmaybeoffensivetosome.Somefilmswillberated‐RandsomeclipsfromTVshowswillberatedTV‐MA.Byremainingenrolledinthisclassafterthefirstsession
 
3
youareenteringintoanon‐verbalagreementthatyouunderstandandacceptyouwillbeaskedtowatchthesefilmsandclips.
RequiredTexts
(Alltextsareavailablefromthebookstore,thoughsometimesmaybecheapertobuythemonline.Pleasechecktomakesureyouarebuyingthecorrectedition.)
 
CourseReader(pdfsonBlackboard):
o
 
ElieWiesel,
MessengersofGod 
o
 
MartinBuber,
ThePropheticFaith
o
 
PhilippeNemo
 ,JobandtheExcessofEvil 
o
 
RenéGirard,“JobasFailedScapegoat”
 
TheBookofJob
inRobertAlter(trans.),
TheWisdomBooks
(Norton)
 
CGJung,
 AnswertoJob
(Princeton)
 
AntonioNegri,
TheLaborofJob
(Duke)
 
GustavoGutiérrez,
OnJob
(Orbis)
 
NavidKermani,
TheTerrorofGod 
(Polity)
OutlineofCourseandReadingSchedule
Readingslistedaretobereadforthatclassperiod.IfthereadingislistedunderSeptember14th,itistobereadpriortotheSeptember14
th
sessionofclass.Thescheduleand proceduresforthiscoursearesubjecttochangeintheeventofextenuatingcircumstances;changeswillbeannouncedinclass.

Eachclasswillconsistoflectureandorganizedgroupdiscussionofthetext.
January14
th
Introduction
January16
th
Job,pp.11‐70.January18
th
Job,pp.71126January21
st 
NoClassMLKJrDay 

January23
rd
Job,pp.127179January25
th
Wiesel,pp.211236(onBlackboard)
January28
th
Buber,pp.183202(onBlackboard)January30
th
Nemo,pp.8199(onBlackboard)February1
st 
SeminarGroup1
February4
th
Gutiérrez,pp.xi‐10February6
th
Gutiérrez,pp.1130February8
th
Gutiérrez,pp.3149February11
th
Gutiérrez,pp.5166February13
th
Gutiérrez,pp.6781February15
th
Gutiérrez,pp.82103

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