Reference no: EM131250532
RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD Reflection Paper Assignment - Christianity
Instructions: These reflection papers are a chance for you to think through and relate to the assigned readings in your own way. Think of this paper as a kind of "journal" in which you reflect on the ideas in the readings. The study and practice of religion is a highly personal experience and each person comes to the Qur'an, the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita or any other religious text in his or her own way. Therefore, you are encouraged to be creative and to write about your own personal experiences, relating them to the faith practices and wisdom traditions we will be studying this semester. However, be aware that creativity and chaos are not synonymous-in other words, you need to make sure the ideas and thoughts expressed in your paper are coherent and understandable, and most importantly, that they directly relate to the readings. Essays must be typed in 12-point font and should be 2-3 pages (double spaced) in length. When you cite a source, be sure to include the title of the book and page number. If you cite a source other than our class textbooks, include a bibliography at the end of the paper.
Some of you may be very familiar with one particular religion we are discussing this semester. If this applies to you, try (if only for the short period of weeks we are in this class together) to look at your own religion with "new eyes." For example, if you are a Christian, try to consider how a Buddhist might see your religion. If you an Atheist, try considering life from a Muslim's perspective. Does this change anything for you? If so, how? Don't be afraid to experiment with ideas.
1. Discuss the historical life of Jesus, and what information we know about him based on the Gospels. In what sense are the Gospels different from modern autobiography, and what implications does this have in terms of reading them as literally true versus symbolically true?
2. Why do you think that Jesus communicated his teaching primarily through parables? Do parables convey something ordinary language cannot?
3. Reflect on Jesus' imagery and language in the Parable of the Sower. Discuss the ideas presented in this parable. What is this parable about? What does this parable suggest about the difficulties of the spiritual life? What is your own interpretation of this parable?
4. Reflect on the following saying by St. Gregory of Nyssa: "Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees." How might this saying be interpreted?
5. Who was Martin Luther and why was he critical of the Church? What was his primary message in regard to the idea that every Christian is his or her own "priest"? How does this idea coincide with the rise of individualism occurring in Europe during this period (16th century)?