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Religion Mid-Term

 

For each question, respond to ALL parts by composing an essay, including introductions and conclusions.

 

You MAY use your notes and texts to help you formulate your answers but ALL work must be your own.

 

All answers must be given in your own words as well. The goal of this, and any, exam is to be sure that

 

you understand this material. Being able to describe the key concepts and ideas in your own words is

 

key to showing this. The more specific and concrete you can be (i.e., ?Feuerbach believed that religion is

 

a form of projection for these reasons?.?not ?Feuerbach was an atheist and thought religion was bad?)

 

the better you?ll do.

 

TWO of the following three questions will be given in-class for your mid-term. You will choose ONE of

 

those to answer.

 

1. When reading St. Augustine?s Confessions, we spoke briefly about the story of St. Antony of

 

Egypt. Recall that Antony had been a wealthy man who was finding his comfortable life

 

dissatisfying, he was longing for something ?more.? One day in church, he heard this proclaimed

 

from the Gospel of Matthew: ?Jesus said to [a rich, young man who had come to him], ?If you

 

wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have

 

treasure in heaven; then come, follow me?? (19:21). Antony had a profound sense that this

 

passage was speaking to him, that it explained why he found the emptiness he did in his wealthy

 

life. Therefore, he did as Jesus instructed the man in the story, sold everything, and became a

 

monk in the desert.

 

Craft an essay responding to both of the following. You are not expected to know anything

 

more about Antony?s story than what I say above to answer this question.

 

A. How would William Portier?s approach to religion help us make sense of this story?

 

Be sure to discuss the meaning and significance of extraordinary experience, its

 

connection to great questions and tradition, and how these categories may help us

 

understand why Antony did what he did.

 

B. This was a profound religious experience for St. Antony, but it was also a

 

particularly Christian one. Some would want to find similar experiences in other

 

traditions and argue that these prove that religions are fundamentally the same.

 

Discuss one reason why someone would want to make this argument and two

 

reasons why Stephen Prothero would find this to be a mistake. 2. St. Augustine was very interested with evil, its origins, and how it affected him personally. Using

 

this as the conversation point, respond to ALL of the following in a well-written essay.

 

a. The people who wrote our ?What is Theology?? reading would say that Augustine?s

 

long, complex grappling with this issue makes it a matter of theology and not simply

 

belief. What do they mean by that?

 

b. What does Augustine see as the connection between desire and moral evil? How can

 

our desire become sources of good and not evil for him? Be sure to explain the ?levels

 

of reality? view that we talked about from the Platonists to answer this part. c. Using concrete examples, explain what the four sources of theology are and one way in

 

which Augustine engaged with each of them in his exploration of the question of evil.

 

3. We have spent several weeks talking about the goodness of creation. Many would argue that

 

this requires an ?ethic of care for creation? from us. The two pivotal assumptions of this ethic

 

are that all creation is good and therefore to be respected, and that all creation is vulnerable

 

and so needs to be treated with respect of limits and love. With these ideas in mind, respond to

 

both a.) and b.):

 

a. Discuss three ways in which the FIRST creation account in the Book of Genesis counters

 

the Enuma Elish of ancient Babylon. How do these differences help highlight the

 

goodness of what God has made and how it is to be treated in Genesis? Be sure that all

 

your examples clearly demonstrate what this has to do with the goodness or lack of

 

goodness of creation, and not simply something that?s dissimilar in the texts.

 

b. Choose TWO of the following. Discuss how points made in these readings can either

 

help to further the ?ethic of care? or show where a concern for such an ethic may be

 

lacking:

 

i. James Martin on chastity (Be sure to give at least one of his definitions of

 

chastity and how they factor into an ethic of care. It may be helpful to use an

 

example from the text to clarify this.)

 

ii. Donna Frietas on hook-up and rape cultures (Be sure to discuss the gender

 

double standard and how that makes an ethic of care more difficult, again using

 

a specific example from the text.)

 

iii. Pope Francis? encyclical (be sure to discuss a major problem he sees as well as

 

how an ethic of care can overcome it.)

 


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