Santa Clara University
Religious Studies Department, SCU
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Course Description  

From The Da Vinci Code to Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of the Christ," from 9/11 to the recent presidential election, western religion is in the news every day. This course offers a chance to explore the religious in the modern world through the origins of those Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Greco-Roman traditions.

The course is divided into four parts. We begin with a snapshot of the experience of western religions in the U.S. today, looking particularly at some recent phenomena like Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code to explore how Americans consume western religion today. We then turn in greater depth to specific features of religious systems, exploring first a theoretical model and then applying these to ancient and/or modern western religions. Thus we will look at the myths we live by in the U.S. today, and compare these to the functions of myth in Jewish antiquity. We will look at ritual performances today and compare these against the rituals apparent in Aeschylus' Oresteia. Finally, we will address religion and violence in American civil religion, in radical Islam and in Mel Gibson's Catholic meditation, "The Passion of the Christ."

How to Use this Web Site

The tabs at the left guide you to course resources.  Use them to access directions, schedules, research tools and grades throughout the quarter, as needed.  Most of our course readings come from the required texts available in the bookstore and on reserve on ERes and in the library.

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