In what ways do individuals experience a religious or spiritual dimension in their lives? What are the patterns to that experience in different faith traditions? How are those patterns different, and how are they similar? We will consider in greater detail the communal or congregational dimension of religion: How do religious communities of various kinds give shape to the religious experience of individuals? How do religious rituals construct the “spiritual self” or “religious self” that encounters God, the gods, Yahweh, Satan, the Spirit, Buddha, Jesus, Allah, etc.? We will consider the linguistic and symbolic dimensions of religion: Does it matter that we talk about and symbolize religious belie in various ways (for example, the various names of god listed above)? We will look at the social dimension of religion: On one hand, how does religion serve to reinforce and legitimate the current social order of a given society (say, America in the 1990s)? On the other hand, how does religion serve to reform or revolutionize a society?
This syllabus was created for the Young Scholars in American Religion program.
Richard L. WoodAuthor
University of New MexicoInstitution
Public College or University Institution Type
Syllabus Resource Type
Undergraduate Course Class Type
1999 Date Published
Religious Studies, Sociology Discipline
Catholic, General Comparative Traditions, Indigenous, New Religious Movements, Other Traditions, Protestant Religous Tradition