According to polls conducted by Gallup and the Pew Research Forum on Religion & Public Life, the majority of Americans fail basic tests about religion, including tests on their own faith. This is troublesome because religious literacy is about so much more than naming deities or knowing the stories of ancient history. For many of us, religion is a way to examine and understand ourselves.
Moreover, religious literacy – the knowledge of basic teachings, symbols, practices, founders, institutions, and values of the world’s religious traditions – can shed new light on the world around us and knock down the boundaries between us, making us better neighbors and better citizens. These 24 enlightening lectures offer you the chance to experience the breadth and depth of the world’s religions from all angles – historical, theological, and cultural. They take you on a tour of the world and its religious cultures. From India to East Asia to the Middle East to the United States, your journey with Professor Berkson introduces you to the beliefs and practices of other traditions and provides you with new insights into your own.
The course approaches each religion from an “imaginative insider’s perspective.” What does the world look like from the perspective of someone within each tradition? What does this person value and care about? What are the everyday scriptures, rituals, traditions, and holidays like?
Along the way, you’ll discover certain features that are common to many religions – concepts of divinity, scripture, rituals, and explanations of good and evil – and you’ll find new ways to attain greater self-understanding.