Comparing Religions Assignment Paper

Comparing Religions Assignment
Comparing Religions Assignment

Comparing Religions Assignment

Comparing Religions Assignment

Write well organized essays on two of the following questions; each essay should be 4-5 typed, double-
spaced pages in length (8-10 pages in total), with page numbers. Your essays should be carefully
proofread for spelling, grammar and punctuation. They should be based on your class notes and the
course readings; no use of outside materials is expected or encouraged. A successful essay will show
evidence of your grasp of the broad thematic issues raised in the class (e.g., gender, ritual, sacred
biography, religious reform), as well as a command of specific information about the two religious
traditions drawn from the primary sources we read. When citing passages from the readings, give both
the name of the text and the page number. The essays are due no later than Thursday, December
13th, at 5 p.m.; answers will not be accepted after this time without prior approval. They must be
printed out and dropped off in the box next to my office (Room 203) in the Religion Department (481
Main Street, 2nd floor). In taking this exam, you are bound by UVM’s standards of academic
honesty; this includes submitting only your own work and not collaborating with others in writing
your answers.
1. Pilgrimage is a religious practice engaged in by many Buddhists and Christians. Compare the
pilgrimages to Jerusalem (using Felix Fabri’s account) and to Divaguhava-the Buddha’s Cave (using the
brochure and translated materials from the site), and discuss specific similarities and differences that you
observe in what the pilgrims do, what motivates them, and what pilgrimage means in their respective
traditions. Based on our study of ritual (Driver’s article) and on the Coleman and Elsner essay on
different approaches to pilgrimage, how do you explain the important role that pilgrimage plays in these
religious traditions?
2. A friend hears you’re taking a course in religion that covers Buddhism and Christianity and makes
the following comment: “I think Buddhism is really cool; it’s so spiritual. But I don’t know about
Christianity; it seems like it’s all about rules and just doing what you’re expected to do.” Based on
what you’ve learned this semester, how would you respond to your friend’s comment? What is implied
in your friend’s distinction between religious conformity and spirituality? Your response should include
a discussion of one specific ritual that we studied in support of your response (if you also answer
question 1, focus on relic practices for this answer). You should reference specific passages from the
primary texts that we read to help your friend understand your point of view. It’s fine, though not
necessary, to write this in the form of an actual dialogue.
3. Write an imaginary conversation that might take place between you, Hildegard of Bingen, and one of
the Buddhist nuns whose stories are recounted in the Verses of the Elder Nuns. You should ask each
woman questions about their lives and their religious experiences and encourage them to compare notes,
basing their responses on what you learned from reading their texts and quoting from them where
appropriate. Consider how your gender affects your interaction with the two women and what they
might be willing to tell you (keeping in mind that these were female renunciants whose interactions with
men were limited in particular ways). Use Anne Clark’s and Rita Gross’ articles to help you understand
the historical contexts of the two women and the issues they faced in the practice of their religious

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