10 Commandments of Judaism and Christianity
We might find ourselves thinking or asking, what’s the point of knowing this stuff? Why should religious content matter? Why should a “basic American” know the 10 Commandments of Judaism and Christianity, the 4 Noble Truths of Buddhism, the 5 Pillars of Faith of Islam, the 5 K’s of Sikhism, the 7 Deadly Sins of Catholicism, or the 5 key relationships of Confucianism? So what? Prothero’s response is simple and it is profound: “Content is the necessary means to understanding.” It is necessary for our self-growth and development; moreover, knowledge and understanding are indispensable in the fight against ignorance, intolerance, and discrimination.
Stephen Prothero Religious Literacy
Worksheet #1 Introduction and Chapter 1 “A Nation of Religious Illiterates”
Page references are furnished for the blue-cover 2007 textbook edition, followed by the later version e-text pagination.
a. a. What religion was the victim?
b. b. Look up Ballar Singh Sadhi’s religious tradition in the dictionary section of Prothero (pp185-292 textbook; pp163-252 e-text) and explain two things about it.
a. 2. In the textbook version on page 5 (p9 e-text) Prothero notes, “religion has always been a major factor in US politics, and international affairs.”
Prothero quotes Diane Eck, who laments, “Christians in the US are…abysmally ignorant about the religious traditions of the rest of the world.” List what Eck calls “the Big Five” major religious traditions of the world (pp8 textbook; p11 e-text). *Note: Daoism and Confucianism of China, and Jainism and Sikhism of India were not included by the author, though I definitely include these in my religions of the world courses.
a. 3. Name a number of issues, reforms, and debates in our culture that “are not comprehensible in a religious vacuum”—meaning that apart from a religious framework we cannot adequately analyze issues. (p6 textbook; p9 e-text)
a. 4. French sociologist Daniele Hervieu-Leger lamented about the European loss of [religious] faith. Note the metaphor for religion she uses, and argue that Europeans have broken it. Explain her metaphor. (p8 textbook; p11 e-text)
a. 5. In 1955 American sociologist Will Herberg wrote a ground-breaking study on Religion in America (p9 textbook; p12 e-text)
b. a. What was the title of the book?
c. b. What was its major premise/concern? [hint: Herberg is dismayed about allegiance to “religion that makes religion its own object,” and laments over the loss of specificity and content. Herberg’s premise possibly inspired Prothero to tackle this issue some fifty years later.]
a. 6. According to Prothero, how is religious illiteracy a “civic problem,” and why is having an “educated citizenry” important? (pp10-13 textbook; pp13-15 e-text)
b. 7. How does Prothero define religious literacy? (pp15, 17 textbook; pp17, 19 e-text)
a. a. Once we understand the problem, what proactive steps can we take to improve and put into practice religious literacy?
b. b. Or, do you think that beyond acquiring knowledge, there’s little or no practical or take-away value to cultivating religious literacy? Explain.
a. 8. I think Prothero makes a compelling observation when he writes, “the war on terrorism is to a great extent…a war of ________.” What is it? Simply fill in the blank. (p17 textbook; p19 e-text)
Chapter 1 “A Nation of Religious Illiterates”
a. 1. Thanks to the Establishment clause, the US government is secular by law; thanks to the free exercise clause, American society is religious by choice. How does Prothero respond to arguments that America is secular, or that America is ‘Christian’? (pp28-29 textbook; pp27-28 e-text)
a. 2. Prothero summarized the possible dilemma or our simultaneous American identity as staunchly secular and/or resolutely religious. What dramatic historical event involving the first presidential inauguration—though seemingly mere “protocol”—does Prothero use to illustrate his response to the above dilemma of secularism or religion? (p29 textbook; p27 e-text)
a. 3. To where did political philosopher John Rawls insist that religion restrict itself? (pp29 textbook; pp27 e-text)
a. 4. Should religion be in the private realm only? Why? If not, how should “religion” be handled in the public square? *Note: remember in Week 1 we saw civil or public religion played out in an overlap of church and state.
a. 5. Which city in the US does Prothero call the “most religiously heterogeneous”? (p 32 textbook; p 30 e-text) By the way, how would you define heterogeneous?
a. a. Prothero mentions another US albeit smaller city that exemplifies religious pluralism. Name it.
b. b. Give a few religious options offered “on the menu” in this same US city.
(p33 textbook; p31 e-text)
a. 6. Prothero describes how in 1854 David Thoreau complained about the religious illiteracy of his neighbors in Concord, MA. A contemporary of Thoreau’s was Ralph Waldo Emerson—a Christian turned Unitarian turned Transcendentalist (for more about Emerson pp34 textbook; p32 e-text; and pp134-135 textbook; pp119-120 e-text)
b. a. To understand part of Emerson’s journey, look up trinity and Unitarianism and explain the difference between the two.
c. b. Next, on this same topic, what is meant by the Muslim concept of tawhid ? What theological interpretation or understanding of a transcendent God do these three terms address? Briefly explain.
(see tawhid pp286-287 textbook; p.247-248 e-text; see trinity and Unitarianism p288 textbook; p248 e-text)
a. 7. In The Greatest Story Never Read, what shocking thing did Os Guinness say about evangelicals? (p45 textbook; p42 e-text) His alarmingremark leads to the following reflective question.
Why might some religious people be “anti-intellectual,” or be threatened by education? If applicable, explain any interplay of psychological and/or religious defense mechanism. Identify any consequences resulting from this attitude. (Respond with a paragraph; support your view.)
Stephen Prothero Religious Literacy
Worksheet for Chapter 2 “Religion Matters”
a. 1. Religionists may argue for a “Christian America” based on the supposed faith of the founding Fathers, and transform the Constitution—though deliberately / intentionally bereft of any mention of God—into a sacred document. The Christian America theory posits a providential divine plan for the nation. A secular version of the Christian America theory is the founding era and its thinkers, shapers, movers-and-shakers of the young nation were Enlightenment rationalists who were at best neutral regarding religion as a private matter of conscience. Both theories have blind spots. According to what Prothero calls the “secular myth,” secularists see American civilization on a trajectory or upward progression from _________ to ___________ and from _____________ to ______________ (p56 textbook; p52 e-text)
a. 2. Also on p56 textbook; p52 e-text Prothero thinks school textbook authors of US history trend toward two less than complimentary approaches regarding the treatment of religion. What are these?
a. 3. On p58 textbook; p54 e-text Prothero writes, “Those who drafted the Constitution and Bill of Rights were influenced far more by Deism than by anti-clericalism.”
a. a. Explain what is meant by Deism (See Prothero p216 textbook; p188 e-text; Lippy pp42, 250; other resources may be consulted).
a. b. SUMMATION: Theism is the position or contention that God remained actively interested in and operative in the world which he had made [that is, God is both transcendent and immanent—immanent meaning God can intervene in history and remains involved in human affairs. Deists do not hold to this.] Christians tend to be theists, but what tends to complicate the picture is a number of key figures in the founding era were steeped in and knowledgeable of orthodox Christianity, but in actuality were more in sympathy with the rational response of Deism.
Deism is the position that a transcendent God designed the world, “got it started,” if you will, and endowed the world at creation with self-sustaining and self-acting powers [e.g., natural laws]. But unlike the transcendent Being [First Cause] of the theists, God is not deemed to be immanent. This means God is no longer active in the world God created. Thus in the Deist view the designer First Cause God commissioned the operation of the world to be a human enterprise that along with natural laws and powers act as second causes. Jefferson, for example in the Declaration of Independence referred to Nature’s God.
Question: Offer a few implications of these two similar but yet significantly different views of God as creator/initiator in terms of God’s relationship with the created universe.
a. 4. In the spirit of democracy and the emerging spiritual marketplace brought on by the First Amendment, Protestantism in America became more egalitarian .
b. a. What does egalitarian mean?
c. b. What part did emotions play in diverse expressions of Christianity? (p59 textbook; pp54-55 e-text) [hint: especially in relation to the Second Great Awakening and populist preachers at the camping / tent revival meetings]
d. c. What did firebrand Elias Smith say Americans should be wholly free to examine for themselves? (p59 textbook; p55 e-text)
e. d. Religion seemed to have played an integral part in a number of social reforms. In particular the religious activist William Lloyd Garrison pushed for two reforms that would usher in “the Kingdom of God.” What were these religiously-inspired reform initiatives? (pp58-59 textbook; p55 e-text)
a. 5. On the eve of the Civil War, what did Frederick Douglass write in disgust about the “two irreconcilable factions” of Christianity as this division related in particular to Christendom’s complicity in the sin of slavery? (pp59-60 textbook; pp55-56 e-text)
a. 6. God and money. The English authorized King James Bible presents us with the word “mammon.” Mammon is not merely a synonym for money/hard cash, but also includes investment, real estate, and personal property or possessions. Most notably these “acquired things” become the objects of focus and desire. Jesus had warned, “You can’t serve God and mammon.” The question remains as to the object of one’s trust: God, or the currency on which the motto “In God We Trust” is imprinted or embossed. See p60 textbook; p56 e-text.
a. a. Who was Andrew Carnegie, and what “gospel” did he promulgate? Explain.
b. b. How were Carnegie’s ideas advanced by Russell Conwell in his widely circulated sermon, “Acres of Diamonds”?
c. c. The phrase is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but its origins may be much earlier, serving as a moral to several Aesop’s Fables. In any event, how would you explain the verse not found in the Bible: “God helps those who help themselves”?
a. 7. God and land.
b. a. Explain the doctrine of manifest destiny (p60 textbook; p56 e-text)
c. b. Identify several dangers (potential and actual) using this kind of religious language “It’s God will that we….” Or “God showed me that…”
a. 8. During World War II, how did the US treat Japanese Americans (primarily Buddhists)? (p61 textbook; bottom of p56 and continuing to p57 e-text)
b. 9. Not long after World War II, America found itself in a Cold War that would last four decades (1947-1991) (3-minute clip Why did the Cold War Begin? http://youtu.be/tLJKVVtiR3g If you have 45 minutes view: http://youtu.be/SI-FS7jDUxM
c. a. Who were the “reds” of the Cold War era?
d. b. If Americans were largely thought to be religious, then what aspect of the “red” political ideology posed a threat to America/Americans? (Think in terms of two oppositional views. p61 textbook; p57 e-text)
a. 10. During the LBJ administration the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965 was passed that abolished an earlier quota system based on national origin and established a new immigration policy based on reuniting immigrant families and attracting skilled labor to the United States. Over the next four decades, the policies put into effect in 1965 would greatly change the demographic makeup of the American population, as immigrants entering the United States under the new legislation came increasingly from countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, as opposed to Europe. http://www.history.com/topics/us-immigration-since-1965 (FYI: Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and subsequent quota-settings restricting immigration in 1924
a. a. What were some reactions, ramifications, and outcomes of this landmark legislation? See the bottom of pp61-62 textbook; pp57-58 e-text; An excellent FYI resource https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwraZQb2Ofk )
b. b. Explain what is meant by nativism. (For this term and movement, refer to Lippy pp113-17, 253; etc. as Prothero does not go into sufficient detail.)
Stephen Prothero Religious Literacy
Worksheet for Chapter 3 “Eden” (What We Once Knew)
a. 1. What did Thomas Jefferson initially propose as an image to be used in the design for the new nation’s seal? (p73 textbook; p67 e-text)
a. 2. The Most Literate Place on Earth Children not only needed to read to be good Protestants, but they also needed to fulfill another role. What was that? (p75 textbook; p68 e-text)
a. 3. According to Prothero there were two concurrent impulses—one religious and the other secular. The country might trust in God, but by vesting sovereignty in the people rather than a monarchy meant that for its survival, an informed citizenry was needed. According to the statement made by James Madison, what is the source of the power with which we can “arm” ourselves? (p75 textbook; pp68-69 e-text)
a. 4. In the 17th-18th centuries, where was the most literate place on earth? [hint: especially in what area or colony?] and what piece of hyperbole [exaggeration] did John Adams write in 1769? (pp75-76 textbook; p68 e-text)
a. 5. To what specific realm / discipline was early American religious literacy limited? (p80 textbook; p73 e-text)
a. 6. Under the “Household” section we read that the province of education extends to homes and religious congregations, newspapers and almanacs, publishers and booksellers, libraries and theatres, theological tracts and political pamphlets, and so on. But according to Prothero, what were the six venues in early America by/through which religious information was disseminated? (p81 textbook; p74 e-text)
a. 7. As part of household religious instruction,
a. a. What core text was used to teach children how to read?
b. b. Why and how were children already familiar with its stories before they had begun reading this text? (p81 textbook; p74 e-text)
a. 8. What was the four-part scheme or arrangement of the Puritan sermon, and what did this organizational format emphasize for the listeners? (p83 textbook; pp75-76 e-text)
a. 9. Briefly describe a 1631 law in Virginia that set out a minister’s required sacred duty, and what was entailed in this religious education initiative? (p84 textbook; p76 e-text)
a. 10. John Eliot labored to convert and catechize Native Americans and African-American slaves, and was called “perhaps the quintessential minister-educator of the 17th-century colonies.” The family of Thomas Mayhew likewise did similar work among first nation peoples, in particular the Wampanoags, but the Mayhew’s took a different cultural /acculturation approach. What did the Mayhews do in terms of strategy that significantly diverged from Eliot’s methods? (p85 textbook; pp77-78 e-text)
a. 11. By what means if not through basic literacy did most African-American slave converts to Christian receive or “get” their Protestantism? (p86 textbook; p78 e-text) Second, how would you define or describe the African-American musical genre known as “the spiritual”?
a. 12. According to Jennifer Monaghan, in essence what did early literacy education amount to? Second, what did philosopher Warren Nord consider to have been the overriding purpose(s) of American Colonial education initiative or thrust? (p87 textbook; p79 e-text)
a. 13. Briefly describe the New England Primer . What was its purpose or primary function? -(pp88-91 textbook; pp80-84 e-text)
a. 14. Along with the New England Primer name three texts or teaching tools that dominated 18th-century American education. (pp88-92; 92-95; 95-98 textbook; pp80-84; pp84-86; pp86-89 e-text) Here’s a picture of one of the earlier learning tools or primers: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hornbook#mediaviewer/File:Campion-Hornbook.jpg
a. 15. Who do Conservative Christians laud as “the Father of American Christian Education”? What was his conviction regarding the fate of the nation? (p94 textbook; p86 e-text)
a. 16. What classic children’s prayer is contained in one of the texts or teaching tools listed in response to #14? Provide the text. (pp91-92 textbook; p83 e-text)
a. 17. What was the “folksy version” of the Ten Commandments located in another of the answers to #14? Provide the text. (p97 textbook; p88 e-text)
a. 18. According to G. Marsden, what were the 5 or 6 main Christian theological doctrines taught in these books? (p96 textbook; p88 e-text)
a. 19. What two passions consumed William Holmes McGuffey? Second, name a few criticisms of the McGuffy readers. (p96 textbook; pp87-88 e-text )
a. 20. What was “a primary avenue for socializing the rising generations into evangelical culture, and teaching ‘middle class morality’”? [hint: along with the common school, it became part of a movement in 1820’s/30’s America.] (p101 text; p92 e-text)
a. 21. What is a missionary?
a. a. What does it mean to “propagate,” and what message was being “propagated”?
b. b. A word often associated with missionary is proselytize. Explain what this means.
c. c. What was a typical missionary’s “lament” about the spiritual condition of the frontier pioneer, and the consequences of their choices of “books” or their overall reading habits? (p103 textbook; p93 e-text)
a. 22. Name 2-3 Ivy League colleges /