Imagine you have funding to do an in-depth study of 2 religions on our list (you’ll study them separately). Which 2 religions would you study and why? Original Answers Only

RELS 102B (Spring 2023) — Instructions for Final Paper

Part 1: Simplified Version of Religion Profile #3

  • Choose an implicit religion from our list (on Canvas), except you may not choose the gym (or anything similar) or Greek life. Instead of doing the full analysis, you’ll look for articles that provide evidence of what makes that thing a religion.
  • Find at least 6 articles from credible websites — but you may need more than 6! You need to find enough articles that provide clear evidence/examples for each of the items below.
  • You may use an article as your support for no more than 2 of the items below.
  • If you know someone who is/was a participant in the implicit religion, you may use their stories for no more than 2 of the items below.

From your articles, find an example/illustration for each of the following items:

1) The community’s leadership structure / authoritative people (2 example of leadership structure or authoritative people)

2A) A major authorized activity/ritual of the community (2 example for both)

2B) A different major authorized activity/ritual of the community (1 example)

3) A major authorized idea in the community (1 example)

4A) Something that participants commonly do to communicate to people outside the community that they are an insider in this community.

4B) Another thing that participants commonly do to communicate to people outside the community is that they are an insider in this community.

5) An example of how this community guides participants about

  • how to act towards people in situations that are un-related to this community or about
  • how to change society according to the community’s values (example outside the community)

6) Choice: An example of a common emotionally intense experience in the community OR

  • a text (or set of texts) that has authority OR
  • a place that has special importance or authority for the community OR
  • 3-4 terms of the community’s special vocabulary/way of talking.

For each of the items above, complete the following:

  • Provide the link to one of the articles that contains a good illustration/example.
  • *new from Tuesday’s class* Write a sentence explaining how you know that the website is a credible source for information.
  • Paste (within quotation marks) 2-3 sentences from the article that describe the illustration/ example you are using to support this item.
  • Write 1 sentence explaining what the sentences you pasted in are telling us or why they are a good illustration/ example of this item. (In other words, you can start with “What this article shows us that …” or “This is a good example for this item because…”
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So by the end, you’ll have a list of 6 articles, and then you’ll have 8 items — and for each item, you’ll have (1) a link, (2) an explanation about the source, (3) a quotation, and (4) a 1-sentence analysis.

Part 2: Reflection on Your Learning

Q2.1: What things function as a religion in your life? They can be official or implicit religions. For this question, assume that there are at least 2 things that function as a religion in your life — even if you personally don’t think of them as a religion. What would a scholar trained in our class who was studying your life think were your 2 religions? Write at least 200 words on each one, explaining what the religion is and what signs/evidence the scholar would use to define it as one of your religions. (Note: This question is not asking you to affirm anything as a religion for you. It is only asking you to identify what someone who is trained in this class could argue functions as a religion in your life.)


Q2.2: Explain 3-4 ways you think about “religion” differently now that you’ve taken this course. (It could be religion as it applies to your own life or other people’s lives or both.) State what each of these 4 ways of thinking differently is, and then for each one, discuss a concrete example of something that you view differently compared to before you took the class. Finally, for each one, identify something from the course that encouraged your thinking to shift: a reading, an activity, a prep assignment, a class discussion — really anything from the course. Write at least 100 words on each of the 4 ways you think differently.


Q2.3: Imagine you have funding to do an in-depth study of 2 religions on our list (you’ll study them separately). Which 2 religions would you study and why? Also discuss 2-3 activities you would want to observe in each of these religions and/or tools you would want to analyze further (see below). For each of the two religions, write at least 100 words about why and what you would study about that religion.


Reminder — some of the main tools we’ve analyzed:

  • Authoritative people
  • Authoritative ideas
  • Authorized activities (which have various purposes)
  • Ways of distinguishing outsiders and insiders
  • Rules for becoming an insider
  • Rules for how to act when participants are outside the community
  • Organizational structure of the community, for example, how the community is organized, councils or associations or recognized sub-groups within the community, levels of leadership (again, this can only be things you didn’t already discuss in part 1)
  • The community’s mission, purpose, or goals
  • Emotionally intense experiences within the community
  • Special vocabulary/ways of talking
  • Superhuman beings or supernatural forces that are considered authoritative by the community
  • Texts or stories that have authority for the community
  • Places that have special importance or authority for the community
  • Objects that have special importance or use within the community
  • Art or music that expresses participants’ devotion
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