Comparative Religions Seminar
A basic understanding of the world’s religions is fundamental to being an educated person and a world citizen. It is also important for people from all faiths to cultivate and nourish this understanding since our world has become increasingly diverse and we interact more often with people of various religious traditions. Jesus asked us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:31). What if our neighbor is a Hindu or a Muslim or a Sikh? It is easy to feel threatened by a neighbor we do not know. However, when the threat is removed through knowledge, understanding, and interaction we become better able to see that God is present in our neighbor though he may seem different from us.
This seminar examines beliefs and ethical teachings associated with various world religions with the goal of increasing our ability to acquire a greater awareness of and appreciation for the diversity and similarities among the world’s religions. It is also hoped, of course, that studying various aspects of the world’s religions would deepen our capacity for compassion and respect towards others in general.
The guest speaker for the six-week seminar at the First Congregational Church in Charlotte was Doug Sjoquist, a retired full-time professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at Lansing Community College and currently a visiting faculty in the Department of Religious Studies at Michigan State University. Professor Sjoquist is a graduate of the University of Hawai’i and has a long career of teaching religious studies courses. His research and travels have taken him to Turkey, Mongolia, China, Peru, and Mexico. Since 1986, he has also studied and taught extensively in Japan. Professor Sjoquist has published articles in such journals as Education About Asia and Interdisciplinary Humanities and is the author of Mii-dera: The Intersection of Buddhism and Culture in Japan (Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2008).
Thanks to all who attended, and to Prof. Doug Sjoquist for a tremendous presentation.
Lesson 1: Studying the World’s Religious Traditions
Lesson 2: Hinduism: The World’s Oldest Living Religion
note: audio quality improves after 21 minutes
Lesson 3: The Teachings of the Buddha (i.e., Dhamma)
Lesson 4: Confucian and Taoist Ethics
Lesson 5: Belief and Practice in Islam and Sikhism
Lesson 6: Christianity Among the World’s Religions