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Group study on cultural religious literacy

  • Needs a date

  • Needs a location

  • As a way to build shared understanding and cultural literacy, I suggest we study materials about a variety of world religions and intellectual traditions / movements, with a goal of understanding how different people draw inspiration from them that motivates them toward compassion and to improve the lives of others.

    I have a copy of the course "Cultural Literacy for Religion", from The Great Courses at that currently has a 29/30 recommendation score. It looks like it would be a good course for our group. Each of its chapters are 30 minutes long. We could do it over a number of weeks, a few episodes at a time, in order of the chapters. Or, we could pick and choose which order we want to follow.

    Course Professor: Dr. Mark Berkson

    Dr. Mark Berkson is Professor of Religion at Hamline University. He earned a B.A. from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, an M.A. from Stanford University in East Asian Studies, and a Ph.D. from Stanford University in Religious Studies and Humanities.

    He has twice received Faculty Member of the Year awards and has received multiple fellowships for his work in Asian religions. A world traveler, he has lived in China and visited religious and pilgrimage sites in countries such as India, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, and Greece.

    Course Chapters

    1 Religion—Its Meaning and Importance
    2 Facets of Religion—Divinity and Devotion
    3 Hinduism—Foundational Texts and Teachings
    4 Hindu Gods and Devotional Practices
    5 Gita to Gandhi—Yogas and Modern Hinduism
    6 Waking Up—The Buddha and His Teachings
    7 Vehicles to Nirvana—The Schools of Buddhism
    8 Chinese Religion and Cosmology
    9 Confucianism—Rituals and Relationships
    10 Daoism—Harmony, Nature, and the Way
    11 Kami and Spirits—Shinto and Shamanism
    12 East Asian Buddhism—Zen and Pure Land
    13 Judaism—God, Torah, and Covenant
    14 Varieties of Jewish Thought and Practice
    15 Living a Jewish Life
    16 The Life and Commemoration of Jesus
    17 Catholic and Orthodox Christianity
    18 Protestantism and Christianity Today
    19 Muhammad, Qur’an, and Islamic Civilization
    20 Unity in Islam—The Five Pillars
    21 Forms of Islam—Diversity among Muslims
    22 Jains, Sikhs, and Baha’is
    23 Religion and Law in America
    24 Religion Today—Trends, Challenges, and Hope

    Just the Beginning

    Obviously, there are other popular traditions and current movements to consider than just those above. People draw inspiration and meaning from all kinds of perspectives. To name a few:

    * Scientific understanding of the universe that remains "agnostic" toward the prospect of the supernatural
    * More abstract philosophical views, which may view the supernatural or god as ultimately mysterious, but rooted in love at the core
    * And on to views that explicitly deny the supernatural: atheism
    * And, I'm sure there are others to mention

    Regardless of the ultimate historical or factual truth of any of these views, there are people who find inspiration and motivation to be compassionate and to improve the lives of others by contemplating one or more of these views.

    Seeking Your Suggestions

    I'd like for group members to suggest other content that we can prioritize for future viewing. Just remember in your suggestions that our goal is to promote understanding and understand how different views, sometimes radically different, can still serve to inspire compassion and action for improving other people's lives in the here and now.

    Getting Started

    Anyway, if you're interested in seeing this happen, sign up and then we'll figure out how a good time and place for the first session!

    take care,

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  • Kiandra

    Hey Josh, Good to hear from ya! Glad to hear this news, I will definitely keep it in mind.

    December 18, 2014

  • Josh G.

    I'll have the bandwidth to organize this finally starting in Jan or Feb. Anyone think of other materials, videos, or books for future installments?

    December 14, 2014

  • Michelle

    This sounds interesting and I know I'm the newbie here...maybe finding a project to work on together would bring people together and help move along a learning experience like this one. It sounds exactly like something that would be interesting to me, but maybe it would get more traction after a couple of volunteer events.

    July 7, 2014

  • Nikki

    This sounds really interesting. Josh, thank you for offering to share access to the course, and let us know if the meetup's on its way to fruition.

    June 17, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    This sounds really interesting! I'm new to Atlanta - actually, I'm moving there from Korea this Friday! - and don't have a job yet so whatever day/time works best for the group is OK with me.

    January 18, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hi. I would like to join as well. Typically I'm available on the weekends early afternoon or during the week after work (6ish)

    January 18, 2014

  • A former member
    A former member

    This sounds interesting but before I fully commit, I would need dates times and costs. I do know that the Teaching Company will give group rates on their "Great Courses" if enough people are studying something together. Something to think about as this gets started.

    1 · January 16, 2014

    • Josh G.

      I have the course already, so no cost. :) I'll wait for one or two more people to RSVP and then we'll figure out best times / dates for everyone.

      January 16, 2014

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4 going

  • Josh G.
    Event Host

    I started this meetup because I have friends who are very religious, somewhat religious, not... more

  • Tashana M. P.

    Great group! I also have interest in interfaith Dialogue! Check out my group as well: Love &... more

  • Nikki

    Interested in learning more about different faiths and belief systems. Enjoy hearing others'... more

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