Directed Independent Study
Death and Afterlife
The course looks at conceptions of death and afterlife in a variety of Asian religious contexts. It examines how religious communities (Hindu, Jain, Buddhist, Shinto, and Daoist) conceptualize death and dying, how they ritually manage the process of death, how these implicate values concerning status, gender, and age, and how they re-create worlds of meaning. We explore symbols of death, rebirth, and afterlife from a variety of examples, such as: Hindu rites of passage, Jain, Hindu, and Buddhist asceticism, the veneration of Buddhist Relics, Mahayana pilgrimage traditions in China and Japan, Chinese mummifications, Daoist thaumaturgy and funerary rites, and Japanese Mizuko Kuyo (Memorials for Aborted Fetuses), and Buddhist Eschatology.
Religions of the World
Important ideas and practices of major religions in historical and cultural context.
Introduction to Buddhism
Examining the doctrines, practices, and communal life of the Buddhist religious tradition. Beginning with the origins of Buddhism in India, its spread and transformation through Asia and to the West. Exploring the various interpretations about Buddhology, the meaning of Dharma and how it becomes embodied in practice. Studying the Buddhist perspectives and approaches to issues and challenges Buddhist face in the modern world.
Religion in Africa
Introduction to major religious cultures of Africa. It explores three major types: African Traditional Religions (ATR), African Islam, and African Christianity. Focus on the variety of beliefs concerning Divinity, creation, the human person, and society. Relationship of these ideas to symbolic, ritual, and communal dimension of African life. Special attention to the role of Christianity as a catalyst of change, the emergence of the African Independent Churches (AIC), and new African theologies.
The contextualization of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist traditions in upstate South Carolina. Historical and cultural background of the region, especially examining the impact of Evangelical Christianity on its norms and values. Development of Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist communities over the last forty years and the role that ritual practice and the construction of sacred spaces (Hindu Temples, Buddhist viharas) has played in the adaptive process.
East Asian Buddhism
Aspects of East Asian Buddhism, focusing on the Bodhisattva model. The development of early Indian Buddhism and its role in the debate between early Buddhist schools and the emergent Mahayana views. The role of this model in the hagiographic traditions of Buddhist monks, nuns, founders, and saints. Special attention given to the pantheon of Bodhisattva Savior figures, such as Guan Yin (Kannon), Dizong (Jizo), and Milo (Maitreya).
Directed Independent Study