Religion & Violence
Week 2, “Evil Religion?”

Readings (due for class on Monday):

  • Jonathan Z. Smith, “Religion, Religions, Religious,” in Critical Terms for Religious Studies, ed. Mark C. Taylor. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), p. 269-284.
  • Reza Aslan, “Bill Mahar isn’t the Only One Who Misunderstands Religion,” NY Times, Oct. 8, 2014.
  • Kelly Baker, “Evil Religion?” The Christian Century

Objectives: students will be able to…

  1. Articulate and analyze J.Z. Smith’s argument
  2. Compare and contrast Baker and Aslan relative to J.Z. Smith
  3. Discuss Charlie Hebdo-Paris in light of the above theorists

Lesson Plan

  1. Check in with students – Receiving e-mails? Canvas updates? Accessing readings okay?
  2. Solo writing (5 minutes)
    1. Reflect: What one question emerged for you from today’s readings?
    2. This can be for clarity, understanding, or discussion.
    3. Collect solo questions – categorize while students work in groups
  3. Identifying the argument (20 minutes)
    1. Identify J.Z. Smith’s argument in “Religion, Religions, Religious”
      1. Groups of three
      2. Point to a sentence or paragraph that speaks his argument
      3. What is he saying in this argument? What is the substance of his argument? How is he supporting his argument?
    2. As a class, discuss Smith and relation of this material to recent Charlie Hebdo attack
  4. Contrast with Baker and Aslan (20 minutes)
    1. How do they define religion, especially relative to violence?
    2. How do they suggest we (the public) deal with religious violence?
  5. Return to solo questions (25 minutes)
    1. (I pick from the categories that arose in solo writing activity)
      1. Themes from questions:
        1. Categorization of religion as an historical endeavor
        2. Qualifications of religion as good or bad
        3. Bringing academic to the public: Productive? Possible?
  6. Watch YouTube clip of CNN interview with Arsalan Iftikhar, “Do you support ISIS?”
  7. Questions and reminders (5 minutes)