World Religion Midterm Essay. For your midterm, you will write a 4-5 page essay on a topic of your choice (that is highly related to what you have learned in the class thus far.) (see down below about topics) is   If you cannot think of a topic please let me know, however, I hope that you could select a topic that is of personal interest to you as it 1.  It allows you to dig deeper into a topic that is relevant to you while 2. Showing me that you are engaging in the material.  If you are having trouble thinking of a topic let me know.  If you are completely stuck, expanding on a discussion question could work as a topic.  I am allowing you some free-range with this so I expect that you connect the dots and come up with a topic that is interesting to you and highly related to the material that we have covered.

This essay must be can be either argumentative or expository.  In either case, it is very important that you have a clear thesis statement.  It is critical that this is a strong component of your essay, so if you have any questions about what this means please let me know.  Whether you chose to write an argumentative essay or an expository essay I would like to take a look at the document titled “A Guide to Writing in Religious Studies.”  This document can be found in the “Additional Materials” section of our course web-page.  Please read that document in its entirety before starting in on your essay.  While I won’t ask that you follow every bit of advice offered in this document I think it will be of great use to you ask to begin to think about the structure of your essay.

Please use 12-point font, times new roman font, double spaced, and one-inch margins.  A minimum of three credible sources are required for this essay. If you are having trouble determining whether a particular source is credible, contact me and we can discuss it. DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE. On the other hand, the online version of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy would be a great source to use. Please select a meaningful quote from your source and cite it in your essay.

I don’t mind if you use the MLA or APA style. In this regard, this website can help to format your citations:


Important: Don’t plagiarize. If you do it will result in a zero percent for this exam, and you will not have a chance to redo it. It is very easy to tell when someone has cut and pasted from a website without citing. Also, make sure to avoid “ paraphrase plagiarism.”

Late work will not be accepted for a grade (due in part to the fact I am giving you three full weeks to write this essay.)  You could turn this essay in as early as you wish.  I’d be happy to look over a rough draft as well (as long as you email me with this request at least 3 days before the due-date).  This assignment is worth 25 percent of your overall grade.

Please upload this essay below as a .doc file.



In order to provide you with a sense of how I will be grading these essays I’d ask that you take a moment to look over this rubric that I will be using for your midterm essays.  As you know your midterm essay is worth 20 points toward your overall grade.  As I read your essay I will be thinking of it in terms of these five categories:


  1.   Quality of topic choice, (5 points)

The topic choice you select can indicate the level at which you are processing this material.  For example, if you select a topic that is very general (or broad) (such that an entire chapter in our text is devoted to it) you will have effectively selected a topic that is much too broad for the purposes of this essay.  Your topic should also be one that is interesting to you.  It always comes through in writing when someone has a passion for the topic they are writing about.  Please remember, I let you select your own topic on the premise that you will be able to connect in a meaningful way with both your research and the construction of your argument.   Topic choices that are too broad or indicate a lack of interest will receive a reduced grade for this portion.  I am very willing to iron out your topic choice with you.  That said, it would be better to come to me with suggestions for topics in-hand (which could be narrowed down) rather than coming to me stating that you have “no idea” what to write about.


  1.   Quality of analysis/Clarity of thesis statement, (5 points)

If you write an argumentative essay please keep in mind that A high-quality argument consists of clear premises and conclusions.  In addition, the premises must work together in a way that supports the conclusion.  I am not concerned with the “conclusions” you come to in your essay nearly as much as I am concerned that your conclusions are well supported by the premises.   Argumentation and the study of “making good arguments” is so important to philosophy, that it is one of the fundamental branches of philosophy:  Logic.  Although it is beyond the scope of this course to discussion kinds of argumentation (Inductive, Deductive, etc.) I will ask that you carefully reflect on what you are trying to CONVINCE your reader of (this will be your conclusion) and HOW you are going to convince your reader to accept your conclusions (this will be done with the premises).  Premises provide support for the conclusion you make.  Essays that lack a clear conclusion (or thesis) will see a reduction of points in this aspect.  Point reduction would also be made if the premises do not, in fact, support the conclusion.  On the other hand, if you write an expository essay you will be graded 1.  The quality of the facts you are introducing, and 2. how well the facts hang together to support the explanation you are seeking to provide.


  1.  Meets length requirement, (5 points)

This is rather straightforward, and I am very strict about it.  In order to receive full credit here, you need to meet the requirement for length.  Essays that are half of a page short of the length requirement will receive a two-point reduction here.  Essays more than one page short of the requirement will not earn points for this requirement.


  1.   Includes a minimum of three quality sources, (5 points)

Quality sources can be found in many academic journals.  The quality of the research you do has a direct correlation to the quality of your overall essay, so please put in work in this regard.  You should also take a look at the “Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).  This is an online resource (free) and it can be very valuable.  Essays that cite Wikipedia or (or similar websites) will see a substantial reduction in points for this aspect.  If you have any questions at all about whether a particular source is of high quality please let me know and I’ll take a look at it (before you submit the essay as a final draft).


  1.   Proper citations (either MLA or APA), (5 points)

You must use either APA or MLA.  I don’t might which.  If you use neither you will not earn points for this aspect.  You can use sites such as knightcite in order to format your citations.

Again, if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to ask.  It could be that the question you have is a question that the class would benefit from hearing and answer to and if so I will post an announcement relating to it.





CHATPER 1: Beginning Your Study of World Religions

  • Chapter Introduction
  • 1-1Coming to Grips with Your Preunderstanding of Religion
    • 1-1aWhat Is Preunderstanding?
    • 1-1bYour Preunderstanding of Religion
  • 1-2What Is Religion?
    • 1-2aDefining Religion
    • 1-2bNotable Definitions of Religion
    • 1-2cThe Definition Used in This Book
  • 1-3Why Study Religion?
    • 1-3aStudying the Persistence of Religion in the Modern World
    • 1-3bWhat the Academic Study of Religion Can Offer You
  • 1-4Dimensions of Religion
    • 1-4aThe Cognitive Dimension
    • 1-4bThe Ethical Dimension
    • 1-4cThe Ritual Dimension
    • 1-4dThe Institutional Dimension
    • 1-4eThe Aesthetic Dimension
    • 1-4fThe Emotional Dimension
  • 1-5Ways of Studying Religion
    • 1-5aTheology and Religious Studies
    • 1-5bHistory
    • 1-5cPsychology
    • 1-5dSociology
    • 1-5eCultural Anthropology
    • 1-5fWomen’s Studies
    • 1-5gBiology
    • 1-5hConclusions about Methods of Studying Religion
  • 1-6Special Issues in the Study of Religion Today
    • 1-6aTolerance and Intolerance
    • 1-6bViolence
    • 1-6cPluralism
    • 1-6dReligion and Ecological Crisis
    • 1-6eNew Religious Movements
  • 1-ADPrimary Sources and Further Reading
  • Chapter Review
    • CR-1Learning


CHAPTER 2: Encountering Indigenous Religions: Ways to Tribal life

  • Chapter Introduction
  • 2-1Names for This Type of Religion
    • 2-1aTraditional Religion
    • 2-1bPrimitive Religion
    • 2-1cAnimism and Totemism
    • 2-1dManaism
    • 2-1eShamanism
    • 2-1fSmall-Scale Religions
    • 2-1gNature Religion
    • 2-1hIndigenous Religions
  • 2-2Challenges to Study
    • 2-2aLack of Written Sources
    • 2-2bDifficulty Discerning Continuity and Discontinuity
    • 2-2cMainstream Guilt
    • 2-2dMisrepresentations in Popular Culture
    • 2-2eMisuse of Indigenous Rituals
  • 2-3Common Features of Indigenous Religions
    • 2-3aThe Importance of Place
    • 2-3bGlobal Distribution
    • 2-3cMany Gods and Spirits
    • 2-3dInfluenced by Other Cultures
    • 2-3eBased on Orality, Story, and Myth
    • 2-3fOriented More toward Practice Than to Belief
    • 2-3gIn-Group Based
    • 2-3hThe Goodness of the World
    • 2-3iThe Role of Religious Specialists
    • 2-3jContinuing Vitality
  • 2-4A Native American Religion: Lakota
    • 2-4aName and Location
    • 2-4bBasic Features of Lakota Religion
    • 2-4cLakota Rituals
    • 2-4dLakota Culture and Religion: Decline and Signs of Revival
  • 2-5An African Religion: Yoruba
    • 2-5aHigh God and Other Gods
    • 2-5bReligious Specialists
    • 2-5cSpirits of the Ancestors
  • 2-6An Afro–Caribbean Religion: Vodou
    • 2-6aLocation and Name
    • 2-6bDivinities
    • 2-6cGroups
    • 2-6dWorship
    • 2-6eSpell and Counter-Spell Rituals
    • 2-6fPolitical Influence in Haiti
  • 2-7Indigenous Religions Timeline: 1500–Present
  • 2-ADPrimary Sources and Further Reading
  • Chapter Review
    • CR-2Learning


CHAPTER 3: Encountering Hinduism: Many Paths to Liberation  

  • Chapter Introduction
  • 3-1The Name Hinduism
  • 3-2The Hindu Present as Shaped by Its Past
    • 3-2aThe Vedic Period (1500–600 B.C.E.)
    • 3-2bThe Upanishadic Period (600–400 B.C.E.)
    • 3-2cThe Classical Period (400 B.C.E.–600 C.E.)
    • 3-2dThe Devotional Period (600 C.E.–Present)
  • 3-3Essential Hindu Teachings
    • 3-3aMain Deities in the Three Devotional Movements
    • 3-3bHindu Doctrinal Concepts
  • 3-4Hindu Ethics and Ways of Life
    • 3-4aThe Caste System
    • 3-4bThe Four Stages of a Man’s Life
    • 3-4cThe Four Goals of Life
    • 3-4dThe Lives of Hindu Women
  • 3-5Hindu Ritual and Meditation
    • 3-5aImages
    • 3-5bWorship in the Temple and the Home
    • 3-5cPilgrimage
    • 3-5dFestivals and Holidays
    • 3-5eFunerals
    • 3-5fYoga
  • 3-6Hinduism around the World Today
    • 3-6aHinduism in South Asia and Africa
    • 3-6bHinduism in the West
    • 3-6cHindu Migration and Life in North America
  • 3-7Hinduism Timeline: 3000 B.C.E.–Present
  • 3-ADPrimary Sources and Further Reading
  • Chapter Review
    • CR-3Learning


CHAPTER 4: Encountering Jainism: The Austere Way to Liberation

  • Chapter Introduction
  • 4-1The Name Jainism
  • 4-2The Jain Present as Shaped by Its Past
    • 4-2aFounding and the First Thousand Years (600 B.C.E.–ca. 400 C.E.)
    • 4-2bThe Next Thousand Years (600–1600)
    • 4-2cEarly Modern Times through Today (1600–Present)
  • 4-3Essential Jain Teachings
    • 4-3aNo Gods
    • 4-3bTime and the World
    • 4-3cJiva and Ajiva
    • 4-3dKarma and Liberation
    • 4-3eTheories of Knowledge
  • 4-4Ethics: The Five Cardinal Virtues
    • 4-4aDo No Harm; Speak the Truth
    • 4-4bDo Not Steal; Do Not Be Possessive
    • 4-4cBe Chaste
  • 4-5Jain Ritual and Worship
    • 4-5aThe Life of Monks and Nuns
    • 4-5bLife of the Laity in Worship and Devotion
    • 4-5cJain Funerals
    • 4-5dTwo Jain Festivals
  • 4-6Jainism around the World Today
    • 4-6aJainism in the West
    • 4-6bJainism in North America
  • 4-7Jainism Timeline: 600s B.C.E.–1990s C.E.
  • 4-ADPrimary Sources and Further Reading
  • Chapter Review
    • CR-4Learning


CHAPTER 5: Encountering Buddhism: The Middle Path to Liberation

  • Chapter Introduction
  • 5-1The Name Buddhism
  • 5-2Buddhism Today as Shaped by Its Past
    • 5-2aGautama’s Road to Enlightenment
    • 5-2bAchievement of Enlightenment
    • 5-2cIndia, Sri Lanka, and Theravada
    • 5-2dThe Rise of Mahayana: China and Japan
    • 5-2eTibet and the Diamond Vehicle
  • 5-3Essential Buddhist Teachings
    • 5-3aThe Four Noble Truths
    • 5-3bThe Noble Eightfold Path
    • 5-3cThe Three Characteristics of Existence
  • 5-4Buddhist Ethics for Monastics and Laypeople
    • 5-4aGeneral Buddhist Morality
    • 5-4bThe Five Precepts
    • 5-4cOther Precepts and Moral Rules
  • 5-5Buddhist Ritual and Meditation
    • 5-5aTemples
    • 5-5bImages of the Buddha
    • 5-5cPrayer and Meditation
    • 5-5dProtective Rituals
    • 5-5eFuneral Rituals
  • 5-6Buddhism around the World Today
    • 5-6aBuddhism in Modern Asia
    • 5-6bBuddhism Comes to the Western World
    • 5-6cEarly Buddhist Immigration to North America
    • 5-6dThe Next Wave of Buddhist Immigration
    • 5-6eConclusion
  • 5-7Buddhism Timeline: 570 B.C.E.– Present
  • 5-ADPrimary Sources and Further Reading
  • Chapter Review
    • CR-5Learning



World Religion Midterm Essay