This year-long religious studies course is an exploration into the different living religious traditions of the world. Religions covered during this year include Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, Judaism. Christianity and Islam. Students will learn to distinguish and appreciate the various ways people define their relationships with the divine and with the world itself. Students will also have the opportunity to read foundational texts from the major world religions and to visit both Christian and non-Christian places of worship. Goals for students enrolled in this course are to develop the ability to think both empathetically and critically about conflicting religious claims and to gain knowledge of the history and culture of several major religious traditions. The ultimate goal of the course, though, is to enhance the student’s understanding of his own beliefs by better understanding the myriad approaches to spirituality and the divine.
The sophomore year is devoted to a yearlong study of sacred scripture. Both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament will be studied from the perspective of modern biblical scholarship. Using available secular, historical, and linguistic scholarship, students will study the essential underlying message contained in the scriptures in an attempt to deepen each student’s spirituality and introduce students to a mature awareness of divine revelation. In addition, students will also consider the Christian community’s rituals of worship, the sacraments, focusing on the sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The sacraments will be viewed as personal encounters with Christ as well as institutional rituals that have developed over the course of the church’s history.
Within the context of the Roman Catholic moral tradition, students will examine contemporary medical-moral issues, especially as they impact both the student’s life and society at large. In addition to shaping informed and responsible personal conclusions, social policies will also be evaluated. Early in the course, students will acquire an understanding of key concepts necessary for analyzing issues clearly and comprehensively. Issues treated include abortion, treatment of handicapped infants, death and the dying process (including physician-assisted, or rational, suicide), care for the elderly, organ transplants, genetic engineering/reproductive technologies, and health care reform. A final theme will be holistic health care and the internal, natural capacity for self-healing.
In this course, students are introduced to the spirituality, culture and history of Native Americans with a focus on the Lakota nation. Major elements of Lakota religion will be compared to aspects of Catholicism. Students will examine the Lakota view of God, creation stories, and other myths and rituals. Issues of justice in relation to Indian reservation life will also be analyzed through the lens of Catholic social teaching. As part of the class experience, students have the opportunity to attend an, optional, eight-day immersion trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservations, at which students will participate in Lakota ceremonies and community service, visit historical sites and hear from residents of the reservation. The trip is limited to 12 students who enrolled in, and completed, the class. Those seeking to attend the trip must go through the application and be formally accepted.